If it involves a challenge, count Daniel Gower in, writes Aaron Goile.
Daniel Gower has heard the football saying "you've got to be crazy to be a keeper" many a time but it doesn't deter him from wanting to be between the posts.
The year 11 Cambridge High School student is making his way as a goalkeeper and has also this year turned his hand to coaching youngsters.
Last weekend Gower, 16, attended a New Zealand under-19s trial in Auckland, as he set to put himself in with a shot of making the cut for a tour to Europe to play against under-19 sides from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland next April.
There were 48 players at the trial, including seven keepers, and Gower, who grew up playing the game in England before moving to New Zealand in 2006, admitted it was "quite nerve racking".
"All the other goalkeepers there were actually bigger and stronger than me. I think for me it was more experience and learning," he said. "Even if I don't get picked, they did seem quite impressed with me, I will admit."
During the season, Gower played for the school's first XI on Saturday mornings and then took the field for the Cambridge club in the afternoons, getting a run in the Federation team as well as the A, B and C sides.
Also this year he played for the Waikato-Bay of Plenty under-16 side in its representative fixtures.
Recently he began coaching as well.
That started as part of a project with his advanced PE class at school and then Gower's keeper coach Kim Brierley spotted the youngster's talent for coaching and thought by doing that it would help his own game.
Twice a week Gower showed 10 to 13-year-olds the art of goalkeeping, while now he has taken on 14-15-year-olds and believes he will continue with coaching in some form.
"I'll definitely carry on with it. I'm not quite sure what I want to do when I'm older. I'm just trying to keep my options open and kind of have some things to say that I've done."
After starting playing the game about a decade ago, Gower later specialised as a keeper, which is a position feared by many for the pressure that goes with it.
But Gower, who is known as a fine shot stopper with his good reflexes, loves to take on the challenge.
"You always get the good feeling if you pull off a good save, you're kind of the hero of the day, I guess."
The player he looks up to most is John Ruddy, who is the keeper for Gower's home club Norwich City, who are battling away in the English Premier League.
"There's something about him, I kind of relate to him in a way, he kind of seems like how I play," Gower said.
In theoff-season Gower keeps up his training by doing a few sessions a week with Brierley, who is part of an organisation called J4K (Just For Keepers).
"It started up in England, it's an international thing, there's coaches all over the world which go under the J4K name," Gower said.
Next week Gower will try and progress in the futsal (five-a-side indoor game) ranks.
"They're actually struggling to get a goalkeeper at the moment so I was asked to go along and I'm going to train and see if I like it," he said. "And if I want to carry on then I can join an under-19s team and they travel all over New Zealand so I'd get to play all different teams."
Having played futsal when he was younger, Gower will this time be more prepared for the rigours of diving on courts rather than grass.
"I remember I always got massive bruises on my elbows and knees. So I think might have to buy some elbow pads or something."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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