Seventh still heaven for pupils

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012
Hugh Rollinson and Kaleb Nisbett
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ
SEVENTH: Hugh Rollinson and Kaleb Nisbett have returned from playing in football's Japan Cup.

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Five years ago, Kaleb Nesbitt played his first game of football wearing gumboots as a last minute replacement, now he has just returned from playing in Japan and Singapore.

The Opihi College pupil and his friend Hugh Rollinson, from Timaru Boys' High School, were late call-ups to the Mid Canterbury team which played in a 12-team competition in Japan and two friendlies in Singapore.

Rollinson's late addition allowed him to join younger brother, Duncan, in the team.

The two 13-year-olds were the only South Canterbury players to make the cut.

The duo helped their team to a three-win, three-loss record, with two drawn penalty shootouts and a seventh-place finish in the Japan Cup.

It has been a fast rise for Nesbitt, who is in his third season of representative football.

His first experience of football was anything but normal.

"I was staying with a friend and I had to go with them to watch a soccer game," he said. "It was in Timaru and I was wearing my red band gumboots and the team were short of players so they asked me to play. They thought I was pretty good so they asked me to come back."

His parents made him play his first three games in the gumboots after remaining sceptical he would stick with the sport.

For Rollinson, who plays centre back, the biggest challenge of playing overseas was the speed of the opposition players and the intense heat they played in. He said he had a new appreciation for the cold South Canterbury winter.

"I'm lucky it's not so hot over here."

Both players are part of the region's Federation Talent Centre for emerging players and will turn out for South Canterbury Under-13 later in the season..

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- The Timaru Herald

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