Two of Wairarapa United’s rising stars have been named in national secondary schools squads to play in Australia in July.
Noah Boyce has been included in the Under-19 squad while Riley Grover is in the Under-16s.
They are members of the Paul Ifill Football Academy and are regulars in the Wairarapa United Central League side.
Boyce, 16, originally from Whangarei, has been playing since he was four years old. He moved to Wairarapa to further his footballing opportunities.
Boyce’s Under-19 team have fixtures against the Sydney FC Academy team, the Australian Secondary Schools team and one other opponent to be announced.
The midfielder is looking to the games as a chance to get some experience at international level.
“I want to rate myself or see how I match up against other players who are at a similar level – it’s just a good experience,” he said.
Boyce would like to follow the same path as former Wairarapa United teammate, Callan Elliott, who represented New Zealand at this year’s Under-20 World Cup in Poland.
“It’s definitely the goal. Callan’s a great inspiration for me, so yeah, always looking to live up to his standard and what he achieved.”
From Nelson, Grover has had a tough introduction to the United squad, taking on the difficult right back role where he often confronts the best attacking players in the league.
His Under-16 squad will also play a Sydney FC Academy team and an Australian Secondary Schools side.
Grover is loving his time in the Ifill academy and Wairarapa United setups.
“It’s real good … It’s fun training every day.
“But it’s my first time playing senior football – it’s a bit of step up from youth football.”
Grover has no real expectations of the upcoming Australian tour but simply wants to make a living out of football.
He won’t be in action for a week or two after straining ankle ligaments in a match last Saturday.
Despite Wairarapa United’s battle at the foot of the Central League, Boyce says the team are on the right track.
“We’ve got a young team, and I think we’re starting to develop a bit of an environment.
“We’re starting to see some results, not necessarily in wins, but definitely in performances, we’ve definitely improved as a team.”