1st XI Boys Football – Players to Watch

First XI football is two weeks into grading fixtures and already a number of players are making a strong impression and are expected to capture headlines for their respective schools in 2020.

Owen Barnett (Scots College) – Born in Northern Ireland, and growing up in the UK before moving to New Zealand, Owen is an attacking midfielder for Scots and was the youngest and longest-serving member of the Wellington Phoenix Football Academy. Owen is a brilliant dribbler and lethal in front of the goal and will be a key part in Scots attempt to win back to back titles.

Gianni Di Leva (St Pats Wellington) – Di Leva will want to make his third and last season a good one. St Pats were third behind Scots and HIBS in 2019 and Di Leva’s experience will be key if Town is to win their first Trevor Rigby Cup since 2017. Strong on the ball and earnest on defense.

Ollie Pickering (Hutt Valley High School) – Was part of Team Wellington’s National Youth League side last year, as well as playing an integral part in the Petone premiers who gained promotion the Central League, producing a stunning comeback to beat Havelock North.

Jacob Wyness (Hutt International Boys School) –  With nine departing players from the team that finished runners up to Scots College last year, Wyness will need to be a consistent performer if HIBS are to push for the title again. HIBS have been the victims of big cleanouts before, returning quickly to success. In 2015 and 2016 they won a pair of titles recovering from a shaky start each season to prevail. Wyness helped HIBS achieve a top ten finish at Nationals in 2019.

Aidan Rodrigues (Wellington College) – Aidan was awarded the most promising player at the Wellington College 1st XI Football Awards last year and is certainly one to watch for the future. Coach Stu Widdowson believes Rodrigues has the credentials to captain Wellington with his considerable abilities on the field and strong mental mindset.

Preston Rota (Rongotai College) – The attacking midfielder returns for a second year keen to build strong chemistry with a contingent of nine players who will be central to coach Sam Mason-Smith’s plans for success. Rota operates centrally and combines vision, quick feet, and an eye for goal.

Patrick Hughes (Kapiti College) – An unsung hero in 2019 for Kapiti who won the Players Trophy, coming from behind to beat defending champions Onslow College in the final on penalties. With the ability to play most positions Hughes provides plenty of welcome selection headaches for management.

Tyron Curtis (St Patrick’s College, Silverstream) – Plays upfront, mainly as a central striker, impressing in his rookie season. His sharp feet and ability to hold off defenders much larger than him is a key asset along with clinical finishing and precise distribution.


-Story Courtesy of College Sport Media