By Mick Jensen
Former St Joseph’s School pupil Robbie Sabo is living the football dream and has been selected for the New Zealand Under 17 team to play at the Panda Cup in China later this month.
He also has a trip to Brazil and the biennial Fifa Under 17 World Cup in his sights in October.
Sabo, who is 17 next month, played local representative football here for a few seasons, before taking up the opportunity to attend the Oleball Academy in Porirua.
He juggles his football education with school and attends Tawa College.
A typical day for the talented footballer starts with football training from 6am until 8am most days, followed by a full school day.
Sabo plays for the Western Suburbs first team every Saturday during the season and is a defender.
He is tall, predominantly a left footer, but can play with both feet.
His “goal” is play professionally in Europe one day.
Robbie Sabo’s father, Zoltan, said the family continued to make a lot of sacrifices to help his son chase the football playing dream.
Gaining selection to play for the New Zealand U17 team was a big step forward in that dream and a very proud moment.
Just 18 players were selected for the China trip and that boded well for his son’s selection for the Brazil tournament.
Mr Sabo said his son had made the wider NZ U17 squad soon after his 16th birthday.
The invitation to attend the OleAcademy had been a big decision for the family in 2016, but his son loved his football and had made great progress with his game, both technically and mentally, since relocating.
“Robbie works hard at improving his game, but he realises how important a good education is as well.
“We will have to see where football takes him, but he is going for it, and we are very proud.”
Robbie Sabo and his family, including mum Angie and brother Marian, emigrated to New Zealand from Romania and became New Zealand Citizens in 2013. The family lives in Ashburton.