Otago trio to immerse themselves in game in UK

Erin Dickie,  Lauren Paterson and Raegan Potter  have a laugh at training at Tonga Park on...
Erin Dickie, Lauren Paterson and Raegan Potter have a laugh at training at Tonga Park on Thursday. They will head to the United Kingdom on a football tour tomorrow. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Three Otago girls are set to be consumed by football for the next 17 days.

Erin Dickie (17), Raegan Potter (17) and Lauren Paterson (15) leave for the United Kingdom tomorrow. There they will take part in the Oceania West Ham United academy's annual tour.

They will train at some of the sport's most prestigious clubs - think Bolton, Rangers and Wolves - and at several top academies.

They will play against other top clubs.

And they will watch games at the highest level.

It is the type of thing many youngsters dream of.

The trio all play representative football, as well as turning out for the Mosgiel senior team.

Dicki, Potter and Paterson were selected from the West Ham academy's two-day camps held across New Zealand and Australia over the past year.

They would be joined by Dunedin coach Malcolm Fleming, as well as Christchurch's Lily Fisher - who has travelled to Dunedin many times to train - on the tour.

They will form part of the girls team, aged from 15 to 17, while three boys teams across under-14, 16 and 18 grades will also travel.

Fleming said a goal for the tour was to find players who were dedicated to the sport and would want to keep going.

While many were giving it away at a young age now, he hoped it would encourage them to keep playing until they were 30 and beyond.

"If they're given the opportunity, they go over there and understand what it's like to be a professional footballer," he said.

"The academies and clubs you train against, they train seven days a week. They're technically a lot better than us, but also thinking smarter.

"The kids come back and realise with a little bit of hard work they're playing for the Southern Uniteds and their rep teams.

"Even still, they're playing for their club sides for 300-400 games as a senior, instead of giving up the game when they're 20 years of age."

He said the speed of decision-making would be the key area in which the players would notice the step up.

All three drew plenty of praise from Fleming.

Paterson was a goal keeper he described as brave and had come on "leaps and bounds" in the past year.

Dickie and Potter both played up front and were threatening on attack.

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