Around the Grounds: All class for Phoenix teen, Wellington duo nominated for national awards

Teenage starlet Ben Waine fulfilled a boyhood dream on Friday by signing his first professional contract with Wellington Phoenix.

And no sooner was the ink dry on his debut deal than the youngster headed straight back to school.

The 18-year-old penned a two-year contract with the Hyundai A-League club, capping a huge few months that included making his Phoenix first-team debut against Newcastle Jets in March, as well as scoring for New Zealand at the recent FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.

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Understandably there were plenty of local media who wanted a chat with the gifted youngster after his signing was confirmed.

But any interviews had to be put on hold…for very good reason.


Waine was only happy to respond to Radio Sport NZ commentator Jason Pine once class had ended.


The Phoenix were happy to oblige with an interview with the youngster... but only after he'd finished school for the day.

Phoenix youngsters up for football awards

Still on the Phoenix and a couple of their other young stars have been nominated at the annual New Zealand Football Awards.

Seventeen awards will be given out in recognition of players, coaches and officials from the New Zealand domestic and international stages, with Wellington’s Sarpreet Singh and Liberato Cacace among the finalists.

Singh – as well as ex-Phoenix defender Tom Doyle – is up for the International Player of the Year Award for his performances for Wellington and the New Zealand All Whites.

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The 20-year-old, along with his 18-year-old teammate Cacace, has also been nominated for the Young Player of the Year gong.

‘‘These young players have all produced on the world stage, in both the Hyundai A-League and [internationally] and deserve this recognition in representing their club and country,” Phoenix General Manager David Dome said.

The award ceremony will be held in Auckland on July 27.

Sarpreet Singh; Liberato Cacace
Sarpreet Singh (left) and Liberato Cacace have impressed for club and country