With international travel disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ricki Herbert Football Academy has taken a group of young players on a domestic tour of New Zealand instead.
The players spent a week touring together, playing 12 games in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
“We thought it would be a good idea to put together an internal tour this year, rather than miss the opportunity for the players to benefit from the experience of a football tour,” academy founder Ricki Herbert said.
In recent years, the academy has taken teams to overseas tournaments in Australia, Asia and China with the aim of helping young players to focus on their football and social development.
The tour coaches are the academy’s Football Development Manager for the Northern Region, Joe Hinds, Hamilton-based goalkeeper coach David Douglas and the academy’s Kamo skills centre project manager Phil Auton.
“The players bond together and learn to do everything as a team – on and off the pitch,” Herbert said.
“They also have plenty of fun and make long-term friendships.”
The 2020 New Zealand tour started in Auckland with games at Crum Park, playing teams from Bay Olympic.
The tourists followed up with games against the RHFA’s South Auckland academy.
On Day 3 (Wednesday September 30), the squad flew to Christchurch for four matches in two days.
Coach Joe Hinds took the opportunity to run a session for Nomads Panthers U-8 girls in Christchurch (see photo).
After completing their visit to the South Island, the squad flew to Wellington (see main photo, of their arrival at Wellington Airport).
The players wrapped up the tour with games in Wellington before flying back to Auckland on Sunday October 4.
“As always, our activities are made possible only by the efforts of supportive families so we thank all the players, their families and supporters for getting behind this tour,” Herbert said.
Jett Douglas, Ryley Bruce, Leonardo Williams, Kingston Storey, Finn McCabe, Nikola Sterjov, James Galvin, Davi Shamo, Toby Malligan, Brooklyn Strange, Theo Barlow, Jack Wilson, William Weinand, Dinko Valsic, Kaden Auton. Mylo Maloney.
Coaches: Joe Hinds, David Douglas, Phil Auton.
NZ Tour Awards were:
Players’ Player: Finn McCabe
Coaches’ Player: Jack Wilson
The Clive Herbert Award: William Wienand.
“We’re extremely proud of every player this week and what they have achieved on and off the pitch,” Ricki Herbert said.
“Thank you to all players and parents for a very exciting and successful tour. It was a true pleasure to have such a great group of fantastic young players who were all exceptional throughout the tour.”
Photo gallery – Auckland
Photo gallery – South Island
Photo gallery – Wellington
In the South Island, Ricki Herbert interviewed three Cambridge FC players about their experiences on the tour.