Young­sters meet lo­cal foot­ballers

Matamata Chronicle - - Sport - By NI­COLA STEWART

Play­ers from the WaiBOP United foot­ball team made a fly­ing visit to the Mata­mata Do­main on Thurs­day.

About 25 young soc­cer play­ers showed up to col­lect au­to­graphs and have a kick round with Liam Hig­gins, Andy Mc­Neil, and Mata­mata’s Scott Hil­liar.

Hil­liar, 19, is study­ing sport and leisure at Waikato Univer­sity and was se­lected for the team fol­low­ing a stand­out sea­son with Melville United.

‘‘[Be­ing se­lected] was sort of my main goal for the sea­son so I felt I was quite priv­i­leged to sign with them,’’ he said.

Head coach Peter Smith said he was a ca­pa­ble young player and al­ready some­thing of a ‘‘me­dia dar­ling’’.

The ta­lented mid­fielder also com­petes na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally in ath­let­ics and holds the New Zealand Men’s U20 800m ti­tle.

He was se­lected this year to re­ceive the pres­ti­gious Sir Ed­mund Hil­lary Schol­ar­ship for his achieve­ments in both sport and academics.

The schol­ar­ship cov­ers course fees and Hil­liar will have spe­cial­ist coach­ing, and at­tend per­sonal de­vel­op­ment and lead­er­ship pro­grammes.

Hil­liar said it was quite nerver­ack­ing re­turn­ing to Mata­mata as a WaiBOP player.

‘‘But I do en­joy com­ing back to the Mata­mata club and I know quite a lot of peo­ple here, so it’s good to catch up and find out how other peo­ple are go­ing with their foot­ball.’’

Young fans: Ash­lynn Good, 9, and Mya Fo­lau, 8, were ex­cited to meet lo­cal player Scott Hil­liar.

Prac­tice makes per­fect: WaiBOP United player Liam Hig­gins runs drills with Harry Scott, 7.

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