Football heroes return
Three professional footballers who began their careers under legendary local coach, Miya Miyazawa, were in town recently to speak to junior players about their U20 World Cup experience.
All three played for Onehunga Sports Football Club and the Wellington Phoenix Soccer School (WPSS), which is based at Waikaraka Park. The two organisations spent an evening celebrating their most recent success stories, on Monday 17th June. Max Mata, Michael Woud and Sarpreet Singh talked to around 80 of the current WPSS juniors, about the U20 World Cup, where they were all part of the New Zealand squad.
WPSS Director and Onehunga Sports head coach Hiroshi ‘Miya’ Miyazawa was the assistant coach for the World Cup squad. Miya spoke about the tournament and the squad’s performance, taking time to impress upon to the young audience the importance of training and eating correctly. He said that, for him, it is a great feeling to see players he had first coached as children go on to such heights. He remembers when all three joined the WPSS, Max was seven, Sarpreet six and Michael 12. He said that the reason they had all gone on to success, (all three have already débuted for the full All Whites), was not just their skills, but the fact they have the right mental attitude and were prepared to put in the hard work.
Then Max, Michael and Sarpreet took questions from the crowd. Many focusing on the heart-breaking, and somewhat controversial, loss in the penalty shootout against Colombia. There was also a moment of humour when Sarpreet was asked if he was happy with his valuation in the latest FIFA computer game.
One thing they all agreed on was the influence that Miya had on their development as players. If they had one piece of advice to the crowd of young hopefuls it was, as Max put it: “Listen to Miya.” He added that having Miya as a coach once again was, “like coming home.”
In addition to national honours, all three now have professional careers, with Max in Switzerland, Michael in the Netherlands and Sarpreet playing for the Wellington Phoenix. Their next goal is the 2020 Olympics, and Miya says he would also love to part of that campaign, but will have to wait and see if New Zealand Football want him again.