The Pride of the Hutt Valley - and the Melbourne Storm NRL club...
By Peter Petterson
First published at Qondio
The photographs attached are of my 15 year old grandson, Pride Petterson - Robati, from the Hutt Valley in Wellington, New Zealand. who has been signed up for a six year contract with the Melbourne Storm NRL professional rugby league club in Melbourne, part of the Australian National Rugby League competition.
The talented rugby league player has had a great season locally. His Upper Hutt Tigers club Under 15 side won their competition. His Wellington Orcas U15 rep side finished second in the national competition. He was top try scorer and points scorer. Once this competition was completed, he was called into his Upper Hutt College school team for the play-offs of the Wellington Secondary Schools competition. They won the final for the third successive year.
Last year Pride competed in school athletic events, being placed in the Wellington representative shot put and javelin finals. He was awarded the Top Sportsmen of the Year award at Upper Hutt College, and was a member of the champion rugby league team as well, at the age of 14 years. He was discovered by the Melbourne Storm at a bootcamp trial in Lower Hutt late in 2009.
He has competed at the provincial level in rugby league for many years. He was also nominated in the NZ Merit Team this year. This is a non-playing side to recognise those players not eligible for The New Zealand Junior Kiwis rugby league team.
Pride is a very modest young man who is a dedicated player and trainer. His fitness is unparalled by other players of his age grade. His manager described him as the best player of his age in New Zealand. Obviously the Melbourne Storm thinks so very highly of him to contract him for so many years - an investment for the future. He is a tall, powerfully built, extremely fit young footballer of huge potential.
Playing football is only half of the deal; young players also have to prepare for life after football. The Melbourne Storm will finance Pride through one of the top schools in Melbourne during 2011, to do an accountancy course. He actually did well at school back in New Zealand during 2010.
He will live with a local family, will be paid living expences and an allowance in future dependant on his age and playing grade. He will be flown back to his family regularly. He is at present on holiday leave with the club - returning to Melbourne on Jan 10 2011.
Barring injuries and unexpected circumstances, this young man should be ready for the top level in about five years. We all wish him luck. The Pride of his family, his friends his football club and his country. He is and will for ever remain our little Pride. Good luck!
This story was published a couple of years ago as Pride was moving to Melbourne to join his new professional rugby league club. The youngster identified in a boot-camp/trial as a 14 year old was on his way. Two years on, has he achieved as much as he was expected to? On the field definately - he has played two seasons in the Storm SG Ball Under 18 team. He was awarded the Player of the Year 2012. Last year he played in a number of rep teams creditably. He has had the odd scrape or two off the field and has been educated about what is expected of a professional player. He has learned that it is also about being developed as a "person" as much as a rugby player. He has learned what is expected in his six year contract. He was very young, away from his family for the first time, and has gradually matured as a young man.My grandson hasn't done too badly at all. Next year he will be looking at being developed in the Storm Under 20 team. He had a couple of games off the bench this year, and actually scored a try in his first game.