Four young Matamata Swifts footballers are gearing up for a full-on week of immersion in their favourite sport.

Jack Wilson, Leo Williams,  Theo Barlow and Ryley Bruce (pictured left to right) have been selected in the Ricki Herbert Football Academy’s tour squad to visit Auckland, Christchurch, and Wellington during the first week of the upcoming school holidays.

The programme for the week involves daily training sessions with the Academy’s squad, which involves players from across the North Island, at all three locations along with games against local age group teams. Coaches include academy founder, Ricki Herbert, the ex-All Whites and Wellington Phoenix head coach, so the boys will be in excellent hands.

All four football-mad boys, who pay for Matamata Swifts’ 11th Grade Panthers team, are looking forward to extending what has been a shorter than normal season. “It will be great to do some more training and play some more games,” said midfielder, Theo. “I’m looking forward to going to the South Island for the first time and spending some time in Wellington. It will be interesting to see how good the players are in other parts of the country.”

Leo, a defender, echoes Theo’s thoughts. “I can’t wait to get on the plane and see some different parts of New Zealand. I think the games will be tough as we’ll be playing against some good teams. But I’m also looking forward to seeing some of the guys we met at the national camp [run by RHFA at St Peter’s School in Cambridge] in January.”

The tour squad was originally scheduled to go to Australia’s Gold Coast during these school holidays, but that trip was cancelled due to Covid-19. RHFA were also forced to cancel trips to Thailand and China for their older age groups.

The Ricki Herbert Football Academy (RHFA) partnered with Matamata Swifts AFC at the beginning of 2019 and has been running weekly player development sessions in Matamata ever since. This programme is open to players of all abilities who wish to improve their game.

The RHFA pathway also offers opportunities for the more committed footballer to progress their game. Tours, such as the one Ryley, Leo, Jack, and Theo are about to embark upon, overseas trips, when Covid allows the world to get back to normal, along with national talent identifications camps are open to those who impress at the local sessions.

Information on the term 4 player development programme is available HERE.