Navy Blues take time out to inspire young footballers in Chapuis community

About 100 young footballers in Vanuatu have spent an afternoon with members of the Auckland City squad between games at the OFC Champions League tournament.

The children, members of the Chapuis community, got to meet and play football with the Navy Blues who were invited to visit by Gary Medina.

Main photo: Auckland City’s Dylan Manickum is welcomed to Chapui Park.Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

“It is a privilege to welcome Auckland City FC management and players to come and visit our community,” a Chapuis spokesman said.

“Chapuis community is an initiative led by Vanuatu Football Federation, especially to raise players from an early age.

“I understand in New Zealand and other Pacific countries, these programmes exist but here we have only just started. We believe this will be a success story for our community.

“This is a big honour for us to host Oceania’s number one club.”

Auckland City players and staff arrive at Chapui Park to receive a warm welcome from the local kids who hand out gifts and have photos taken. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Auckland City General Manager Gordon Watson said the visit was arranged weeks in advance of departure to Vanuatu and kept up the club’s positive reputation in the region.

“Gary spoke with us very early on in the lead-up to the OFC Champions League about a visitation, and (coach) Albert Riera and the squad were only too happy to do so.

“Many of our players are parents themselves and understand the need for children to have role models, so we got to surface that sense of responsibility and emotion in our squad today.

“The children and youth of Chapuis are very talented young footballers, and I think we and they bonded on not only those terms but also with humour, kindness and a mutual respect.

“One message we wanted to deliver here today was about dreams. Dreams and aspirations.

“Brian Kaltak, Vanuatu national team captain, played for Auckland City FC and is now with Central Coast Mariners and we explained to the Chapuis community what an impact he had on our team and how we gave Brian the platform to perform and reach a new level beyond our club.

“Dylan Manickum and Albert Riera each spoke very well with short messages that we hope left a positive impact and who knows, maybe one day another Vanuatu player, perhaps one from Chapuis, will play for Auckland City FC or beyond,” he said.

Photo gallery

Phototek’s Shane Wenzlick was at Chapui Park and captured these images from a special day.

Please click on image to open to full size.

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