Matthysen a star on the rise
Rising Canterbury football talent Lyle Matthysen never contemplated following his dad down rugby road.
South African-born Matthysen, who is Year 13 at Cashmere High, has caught the eye for Mainland Premier League powerhouse Cashmere Technical this winter.
The 18-year-old winger has been a regular starter in the experienced Tech line-up, which contains a raft of past and present Canterbury United players.
In his first full MPL season, Matthysen has impressed, scoring nine league goals, the second most in the competition behind teammate Michael White, who has 19.
Matthysen, who moved to Christchurch as a six-year-old with his family in 2004, said football had always been his major sporting passion.
Partly due to his lanky frame, there was never any temptation to play rugby like his father, Martin, a decent second five-eighth club player in Cape Town.
‘‘I was actually raised in a rugby family. I was going to play rugby,’’ Matthysen said.
‘‘In a way, I’m following in his footsteps and hopefully going further. He’s happy for me. I’m doing what I love and every day he says I’m making him proud. That’s all I can ask for.’’
He took up football after arriving in Christchurch, joining the former Cashmere Wanderers club.
Matthysen has been part of Canterbury United’s youth team for the past two years and is a vital contributor in Cashmere High’s successful First 11 side, which he captains.
His steady play for Tech have sparked calls for his inclusion in Canterbury’s national league senior squad this summer.
Matthysen has a South African passport and said he and his parents were working through the rigorous job of trying to gain dual citizenship for him.
He was in the selection frame for the New Zealand under-17 side in 2014, but was deemed ineligible.
‘‘I try to stay away from that and focus on my football and schooling,’’ he said.
Testing himself in the national league with Canterbury was Matthysen’s long-term ambition, but said the decision would ultimately rest with Willy Gerdsen and his coaching team.
‘‘It’s definitely a goal. It’s the next step from where I am. I feel like I should be striving to the next level and aiming to play seniors. I haven’t talked to Willy in a while.’’
Veteran Tech midfielder Stu Kelly believed Matthysen was one of the most promising football talents in the region.
He said the youngster was guilty of drifting in and out of matches last season when he gained the odd first team appearance, but had improved his consistency.
Maintaining his intensity for the full game and avoiding flat patches was an area he needed to keep working on, like any young player, Kelly said.
‘‘He’s playing every week at Tech and not many young players have done that in the last four or five years. He’s definitely proved he deserves a chance [for Canterbury United] if you’re looking at performers in the winter league. He has to play for 90 minutes each week.’’
Matthysen had been surprised by the amount of game-time he’s received for Tech this season after mostly playing for their reserves side last year.
Training alongside seasoned Tech performers such as Kelly, White, former All White Aaron Clapham, Tom Schwarz and Gary Ogilvie each week had been invaluable. He tried to soak in as much knowledge as he could and enjoyed picking the brains of his experienced team-mates.
‘‘It’s unbelievable to think I get to play with players like that, who have been through it all.
‘‘It’s such helpful advice to a young schoolboy playing at a high level. Every training I get advice.’’
Matthysen was determined to help lead Tech to a fifth straight MPL crown and a Chatham Cup national knockout title over the last part of the season.
Tech won Chatham Cup titles in 2013 and 2014, but Matthysen wasn’t in the side then. They have drawn MPL rivals Nelson Suburbs away in the Chatham Cup quarterfinals over the weekend of August 5-6.
He will also attend his fourth secondary school premier nationals in Napier with Cashmere High in September.