Homegrown Hero Makes Debut in Chaotic Week
Grady Rapid made his Debut between the sticks for the Bellevue Barrage this weekend, in a dominant 0-7 victory against the un-managed New Zealand North Kings.
The first ever promotee from the fledgling Bellevue Battery Youth Academy had high expectations to live up to – but did everything possible in a game where he didn’t face a single shot on goal.
Senior Coach Kaappo Tihonen was joined by Youth Coach Jeffry Jacob and both left the arena happy with their young charge.
“In all honesty, I didn’t expect anything less from our boy” Jacob told the media scrum at the post-game conference.
“He’s been doing the business for us at Pockmark Road for a full season, I’ve been itching to see our lad step up.”
Not content to let the opportunity slip, Jacob added “The Youth Academy has been copping a lot of stick from local parents and media since it was formed, and I’ve been clear all along that getting results on the pitch and the training ground would take time.”
“Today proves that the investment made by our young club was justified and you should all, well, shut up!”
Barrage Manager Brin Chaser was careful to quietly dislodge the microphone from his coach, before his youth coach threw it at someone – but shared his enthusiasm over Grady’s promotion.
“Today’s performance is really an encapsulation of what this club is all about. We’re local, we’re proud and we’re giving our kids a genuine pathway into professional football.”
The result sees the league promotees in an incredible second place, with a game clear on third and a +14 goal difference. While pundits predict that their toughest games are ahead of them, the Barrage have so far, done what they need to do to ensure a future in Division Five.
Training and Tactical Shift?
Kaappo Tiihonen was keeping a lid on things this week with a closed training session – and with the sudden promotion of Grady Rapid, we can see why. In the midweek, the training focus was switched to Goalkeeping and soon after, half of the Barrage midfield was on the transfer market!
Tiihonen was adamant that the team had made the right choice stating “The club must train to it’s local young talent, and Rapid is someone we can see staying at this club for ten years. I thank the transfer listed players for their professionalism in not divulging the details of the plan, all of them were made aware of the change when Graday Rapid was scouted into the Youth Academy a full season ago.’
First Team winger Reilly Mapp has already been linked to Victoria Division IV team Hedricko, with the others looking to be snapped up soon.
Just as suprising was the shift of defensive stalwart Taiho Symes, pairing former substitute Jake Te Urimingi on the wings. The two local boys have had to take a back seat to their younger teammates, but with the swtich to goalkeeping training, the foundation players are now potentially – the two strongest offensive threats on the squad.
Ironically, this move gets another homegrown talent Adam Emmanoulidis a starting spot at wingback!
“These are very popular changes with our fans!” Tiihonnen chuckled after the game.
“It is clear that both are very talented players. Taiho has scored for us in the last game and Jake has scored four goals for us in the past, so we are in a strange position of selling players and potenially boosting our performance!”