Max Mata signs professional contract in Europe

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WPSS is proud to announce that elite school graduate Max Mata has signed his first professional football contract.

Mata has joined Grasshopper Club Zurich of Switzerland after spending 10 years in the elite school on a 2 and a half year deal.

During his time in the programme Mata toured Australia, Japan and Europe. One of his highlights being the U15 Manchester United Premier Cup global finals in Manchester, England. Mata scored against Arsenal of the Premier League as a 13 year old to put Onehunga Sports ahead only for Arsenal to equalise 1 all with the very last kick of the game.

Now settled into his home in Switzerland Max took time out to talk to WPSS about his new surroundings.

WPSS director of football Hiroshi Miyazawa with Mata on his recent visit to Switzerland.

WPSS director of football Hiroshi Miyazawa with Mata on his recent visit to Switzerland.

WPSS - Describe the feeling you have at signing your first professional football contract.
Mata - The feeling is a mix of emotions but mainly excitement. I am happy to finally be starting my footballing career. I am living my dream job and it makes me feel proud of my family name and where I have come from.

WPSS - How is your new life in Switzerland and what are the main differences in your new daily routine?
Mata - My new life in Switzerland is very different in many ways but I actually feel very comfortable here. A main difference is the weather! It’s been snowing quite a bit here and I’ve never had to live in a climate like this before. Another big difference is that I only have to focus on training and playing football and nothing else. That gives me enough time to work in the gym everyday and manage my body in order to be able to perform each time I train and or play.

WPSS - How do you feel you are settling in and what have you enjoyed the most about your new environment so far?
Mata - I feel I’m settling in well but I think a lot of that has to do with the attitude I came here with. I was determined that I was going to show everybody here that just because I come from New Zealand it doesn’t mean I won’t be on the pitch ahead of them and I think about that everyday. I know that’s exactly their mindset too. I have found the players are very friendly off the pitch which is good and I am making some good relationships with team mates which is important.

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WPSS - How do you feel growing up in the WPSS environment helped you to achieve your dream and what are the key learnings?
Mata - I think coming from WPSS I was lucky because everyday I was learning from people who had literally “been there done that”. Most of the players don’t realise how lucky they are to be in such a good footballing school. I realised how good our programme was when I first went away to England in 2011. The competition we faced were mostly professional academy teams but the gap between us and them wasn’t a big one. There was a difference but I felt from that moment that it wasn’t impossible for me to achieve something in football if I continued to work hard with my coaches and peers. I was lucky enough to see that stuff and learn those things right through my time in the elite school and I just kept them in my mind constantly.

WPSS - What goals have you set yourself now you have arrived at GCZ?
Mata - My main goal is that I am going to be the hungriest player everyday in the gym and on the pitch. I believe if I can achieve that then my footballing career will be successful as I will have no regrets. Also being a striker I want to score as many goals as I can and a goal I have in my mind is to score the most goals in the league for the 2nd half of the season.

WPSS - What advice do you have for all the WPSS youngsters that are now looking up at you and wanting to follow in your foot steps?
Mata - I don’t really have advice to give about how to become a professional but I can give advice on giving yourself the best chance of doing it. That’s to constantly work harder than your team mates whether that’s showing up 10 minutes earlier to practice kicking, shooting, juggling etc. Most importantly though - trust in the WPSS way because they have a great record of producing players. Work hard and believe in yourself and the programme.

Leigh Kenyon