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Sprowson winging to the US

Wai United will miss Stephen Sprowson’s [right] pace out wide. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Trust House Wairarapa United’s Stephen Sprowson was fulfilling a long-held ambition when he left yesterday to join an American university on a sporting scholarship.

Sprowson has taken up a three-year full-tuition scholarship at Post University, Waterbury, Connecticut, studying sports management and will play for the university’s football side.

Achieving his dream of getting a sought-after scholarship has proved a mission for the talented 22-year-old.

After leaving Rathkeale College, Sprowson studied at the NZ Institute of Sport and later joined the Wellington Phoenix Academy when he was spotted playing for Lower Hutt City in the Central League.

“I think that opened the door big time for me, and I wouldn’t have done this without doing that, and I had to take that stepping stone,” Sprowson said.

He initially intended to join another American university two years ago, but that fell through, so he joined Post last year and began his studies online because of the covid-19 travel restrictions.

Nicknamed the Eagles, Post University play in the NCAA Division Two Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, winning conference championships in 2018 and 2019.

Sprowson said the target for the Eagles in the coming season is to win the conference again and qualify for the NCAA division two national championship.

Pre-season starts in early August, and Sprowson is preparing for a hectic first year at the university.

“I have to keep up with all the uni stuff because they require you to get As and Bs for you to play, so I have to be pretty focused in the class as well as on the field.”

Known for his pace out wide, Sprowson hopes he will get to play in his favoured right wingback position where he has been an attacking threat for Wairarapa United.

Once through his studies, Sprowson plans to try his luck in breaking into one of the American professional leagues.

“They’ve got Major League Soccer, but they also have their USL [United Soccer League], which is their second-tier professional league, so I wouldn’t mind getting into that.”

While happy to be taking off on the next step of his footballing career, Sprowson said he leaves Wairarapa United with a heavy heart. The team are in the hunt for a spot in the new national championship, fourth-equal [fifth on goal difference] in the Central League.

“I’m happy how we’ve performed, and we started off really well. We’ve pretty much been in that fourth spot for the majority of the season, and we’ve got to push hard now.

“I’ve been quite surprised how well we’ve done.”

However, Sprowson is not a fan of the June transfer window, which had influential midfielder Hugo Delhommelle join Miramar Rangers, and prolific goal scorer Jared Cunniff snapped up by Wellington Olympic.

“It’s definitely not ideal because those clubs have secured themselves pretty much in that national league tournament now, and they’re pinching our gunpowder now. It’s not a good look.”

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