The array of Australian stamps adorning Katie Hoyle's passport won't be the only ones filling its pages for too much longer, if the eighteen-year-old Waikato soccer star continues her current rate of progress in the game.
Being named a finalist for the National Women's League Young Player of the Year award was due reward for a string of impressive engine room performances in the Lion Foundation-sponsored competition by the New Zealand Under-20 Development Squad star, and her coach, John Herdman, has been suitably impressed by the manner in which she has embraced the challenges set her.
“Katie was very unlucky not to be named Young Player of the Year. Her performances have shown that, if she continues to develop at her current rate, she has the potential to be a huge success on the world stage”.
Such exotic locations as Samoa and Russia, likely to be among the next stamps in Katie's passport, are a far cry from the humble surroundings of Newstead Country School, where her fledgling football career commenced under the watchful eye of her biggest influences.
“My older brother, Charlie, was five, and playing at Newstead”, says the bright-eyed midfielder, “and my parents were coaching there also. I got involved when aged four, and have been playing ever since, more often than not in the same team as Charlie.
“I've pretty much been brought up as a boy, and have been playing sports all my life. But there's no question as to which is my top preference! For me, it's soccer for life - at least till I'm old!!”
Goalscoring hasn't been a regular feature of Katie's career, by her own admission. “I'm more of a `setter-upper'”, laughs the young lady who has four Northern Premier Women's League and one Uncle Toby's Women's Knockout Cup goal to her name in Claudelands Rovers' colours.
“One goal I do recall with some pleasure came at a National Secondary Schoolgirls tournament. Playing for Hillcrest, I cracked home a free-kick into the top corner from outside the penalty area against Avondale - that would be the best goal I can remember scoring to date, and that it came against Avondale made it all the sweeter!”
In the fifteen years Katie has been kicking a ball in anger, Western United, Cambridge and Claudelands - as well as her school - have been the prime beneficiaries of her creative talents to date, her efforts for these clubs earning her selection in numerous Waikato representative teams in recent seasons, and the NZ Secondary Schools squad, with whom she heads to Sydney for four games in February.
“Getting selected in the New Zealand Under-20 Development Squad is my biggest achievement to date, no question!” exclaims the midfield general. “Qualifying for Russia with the Under-20s is my next ambition, while long-term, playing for the New Zealand women's squad, playing overseas and coaching are high on my list of objectives”.
Given these ambitions, Katie will be pleased to learn that a particular aspect of the work ethic she is employing to realise them has caught the eye of her NZ Under-20s coach, who has been another big influence on her career, despite the brief time he's been in charge of the squad.
“Something that has really impressed me is Katie's commitment to her own personal training programme“, says John Herdman, “as well as her personal quest to become the best midfielder in New Zealand”.
Her current rate of progress suggests Katie Hoyle will go a long way towards realising her ambitions. She's definitely a young lady who's going places - certainly further afield than Australia!
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