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Youngsters taking on big guns

Jonty Roubos, juggling a ball as Stanley Archibald, and Noah Boyce, look on while warming up before training with Wairarapa United. PHOTO/CAL ROBERTS

Wonderkids stamping their marks

Rathkeale College students, Jonty Roubos and Noah Boyce both 15 and Stanley Archibald, 16 are proving they have the skills to mix it with the men. The teenagers have been giving sterling displays for Wairarapa United in the early stages of the Central League championship. CAL ROBERTS spoke to them at training this week.

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They may be just boys taking on men, but three Rathkeale College footballers are doing more than enough in the Central League championship to convince Wairarapa United coach Phil Keinzley to keep them on.
Jonty Roubos and Noah Boyce, both 15, debuted for United against Olympic last month – becoming the youngest players to wear the strip.
And though the team lost the opening match of their campaign 2-1 to Wellington Olympic, Keinzley said the pair held their own.
“Both of them played extremely well.”
Keinzley was forced to call up the youngsters after his side was shorn of eight squad members due to other footballing commitments or injury.
At 15, both Jonty and Noah were too young to play without special dispensation.
“We actually had to get dispensation for them to play because of their age, and they did themselves proud.”
Jonty was especially impressive in the team’s second match, a 1-1 draw with Western Suburbs. He had a storming second-half, often wrong-footing the opposition defences with his ability to change direction at pace.
Another Rathkeale addition to the team, Stanley Archibald, was just old enough to play at 16 years old.
Keinzley said all three were “knee-high to a grasshopper” but had become valuable members of the United squad.
Stanley said training with United was “high intensity”.
“It’s a big step up from school football and a great way to progress.”
Because they were not as physically strong as other players, he said the trio needed to find strength in other areas, such as technical skill.
Noah said the age gap allowed him and the others the opportunity to step up and make sure they were playing at a consistently high level.
Jonty said when he got on the field, their opponents underestimated them.
“They don’t expect us to be as technically good.
“We need to make sure we aren’t afraid to make tackles and get the ball.”
He said as reserves, they were expected to make an impact.
Rathkeale College principal Willy Kersten said the players took an interest in enriching life at Rathkeale on and off the field.
“The special thing about these guys is that they are very keen to contribute to the entire school – they’re not just here for football.
“They’re just incredibly positive young people, very committed to whatever they do – academics included.”
The teenagers train with United three times a week and are working towards playing football professionally.
Keinzley said they had talent in spades and were capable of one day playing for New Zealand on the international stage.
“They’ve got it all — now it’s just the desire to make it happen.”

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