12th Grade trip to Noumea

During the April school holidays seven lucky wests 12th grade players joined forces with the Shane Rufer School Of Football to travel to Noumea for a football/Cultural exchange.

Wests players were Aidan Wellbourne, Zoe Barrott, Jake Eagar, William Sule, Jarrod McKechnie,Logan Kanijal-Moran and Matthew Jones.

The team started with four nights staying in the college dorms and then for the remaining 7 nights were billeted out with local families which was a great experience.

Days were made up of football games against local club and school sides and also many tourist type activities. Having played 10 games without defeat the team headed into the New Caledonia International tournament confident but apprehensive as the temperature was around 30 degrees every day and was sapping the energy from the players.

The tournament was for one day and was played at the La Stad Stadium and home of the Paita club. The team needed to win 3 pool games and then three play-off games to be crowned champions for 2014.

Pool play was comfortable for the squad and rest was demanded between games as the kids found it difficult to adapt to the soaring temperatures. Into the quarter finals and a titanic struggle ensued with the Kiwis coming out on top against the fancied Paita club side 6-4.

Into the semi finals and a comfortable win 3-0 set up a final against the second ranked team in New Caledonia after they beat the favourites in penalties in the semis. Mondor proved tough opponents but the Kiwis quickly adjusted from playing a short passing game to a longer ball to turn the opposition defence around. By now the huge local crowd were in behind the kiwis and every time one of our players touched the ball the crowd chanted their names. The final ended being a very well earned 4-0 win much to the delight of the crowd.

The players were exhausted but delighted with the result. Darkness fell as the Kiwis performed the haka in front of a packed grandstand and then they were awarded the international trophy and crowned 2014 champions. The Wests players did the club proud both on and off the field. Being humble in their dealings with locals and always adhering to good sportsmanship qualities. As a coach it was great to be working with different kids and watch how our players grew throughout the tour. We look forward to hosting a team from New Caledonia next year. Shane Rufer as head coach was more than impressed with each and every Wests player and wishes to continue the close association we have with his school of football. The players have now been invited to join a tour to Japan for 3 weeks in January 2015.