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Strathallan duo make NZ Rep Team

Talented ACG Strathallan athletes Jasdeep Basra (15) and Jeremy Foo (14) were thrilled to be selected for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Under 16 Football team.
Teammates Jeremy Foo and Jasdeep Basra were selected for the NZ Secondary Schools Under 16 football team

When it comes to football, ACG Strathallan punches well above its weight. Not just one, but two of the school's First XI players have been picked for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Under 16 Football team, an elite squad comprising 25 of the country's most talented young footballers.

Jasdeep Basra (15) and Jeremy Foo (14) both made the cut, impressing selectors with their skill and potential. According to ACG Strathallan First XI Boys Football coach Joe Hinds, the pair's selection marks the start of an exciting future on the field.

"If you imagine the size of the pool of players the New Zealand selectors have to choose from, it's a huge achievement," says Joe, who is also the Ricky Herbert Football Academy Development Manager for the Northern Region.

"Jeremy and Jasdeep have been recognised as two players with a high level of talent. Their story is only just beginning, and now they have to continue to develop, be driven and be willing to work harder than anybody else."

Joe believes the boys' attitudes played a significant role in their selection.

"Attitude is the foundation. Both never miss training, show a willingness to learn tactically and have belief in their own ability. Jasdeep is an exciting player to watch; he is great in one-on-one situations and is lightning quick. Jeremy is so calm and composed for such a young player and is technically rounded. Both bring great qualities in their role for the team, and they always put the team first."

ACG Strathallan's strengthening football programme has also delivered results far beyond expectations.

"Neither player is at a stereotypical 'big' club or school in terms of football reputation, so I think it's a great achievement for them breaking down that barrier, and also a reward for Strathallan for the support they've given their football programme. Unfortunately, our vice-captain David Grey missed the New Zealand trial due to injury. If he'd been able to attend, I have no doubt we would be talking about three ACG Strathallan players being selected."

Despite Joe's big vote of confidence, Jeremy says he was "pretty surprised" when he found out he'd made the team.

"I think it was due to my work rate on the field," says the Year 10 midfielder, who has been playing football since the age of five.

"I want to thank my teammates and coaches for pushing me and especially Joe, as he has given me so many opportunities and taught me so much over the years."

And although Covid-19 has scuttled the New Zealand squad's plans to play against Australia and the Cook Islands, Jeremy believes there are still plenty of action-packed opportunities ahead.

"I'm excited about training and playing with the team, and I hope to gain a lot of knowledge from the coaches. The thing I love most about football is the competitiveness and the way you feel after a good training or a tough win. The bonds you form with your team are also important to me."

For Year 11 player Jasdeep, building his football skills and having the chance to prove himself against a higher level of competition is an exciting prospect.

"I really enjoy the competitive side to sports," says Jasdeep, who has also played for Counties cricket and Counties touch rugby and has previously qualified for Auckland Athletics.

Described by Coach Hinds as a "very humble but unique player", Jasdeep started as a defender for ACG Strathallan's First XI before being changed to an attacker – a position he thrived in.

Adds Jasdeep, "I've learnt a lot over the last few years from my football coaches. Joe has given me a lot of encouragement, taught me a lot about my position and always pushed me to be a better player."

Despite his outstanding sporting achievements and obvious potential, Jasdeep remains very down to earth about the future.

"I'm just taking it one game at a time."