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Sunday, 26 November 2017 12:32 am

Lower Hutt footballer slims his way to big break

Watson.PhotoMacPhotography

NEW SIGNING: Hamish Watson in a pre-season game with the Phoenix. Photo by PhotoMac Photography.

IT WAS a tense moment whenever young striker Hamish Watson stepped on the scales.

Reaching his goal of losing 10kg would determine his chance of being signed to the Wellington Phoenix.

“After I went to the world cup in Turkey for the Junior All Whites under 20 last year I kept putting on weight. I got up to 101kg.”

At a pre-season match for the Phoenix, the Phoenix head coach Ernie Merrick told Hamish he had to lose 10kg to get a chance at a contract.

He was allocated a strength and conditioning coach to help him lose the weight, which started melting off.

“It took two months to get the weight off. The first 5kg came off so easy but then it became really hard… I had to make good habits for myself.”

After managing to lose 11kg, Hamish received a phone call from Sean Gill, the Phoenix football operations manager, on February 5.

“He asked if I was sitting down and said the Phoenix want to sign me. He asked me what the chances were of me driving back to town to sign the contract. I said I’d be there soon…

“I don’t know why but I just started crying, it was just a huge relief. It was the last day of the transfer window too, so I’m stoked that they chose to sign me.”

After spending his first few games on the bench, Hamish played for the first time on March 16 against the Melbourne Heart in Melbourne.

“I got on for about ten minutes. We drew 2-2 and I think I played okay for the time I was on.”

Hamish was signed to the Phoenix as a striker, and said he had played this position for as long as he could remember.

“When I was younger I scored a lot of goals so that became my position. My dad was a striker. I probably wanted to be like him.”

Watson.SuppliedLH

LOYAL PLAYER: Hamish playing for his Lower Hutt Club. Photo supplied.

Hamish had always played for Lower Hutt and said that was where he met his coach Brendan McIntyre, whom played a major role with his football.

“I first met him when I was 14. He’s like a second dad to me, I can talk to him about anything and he has helped me to become the player I am. I will always be grateful to him.”

Mr McIntyre said Hamish’s football skills have developed considerably over time.

“When I first met him he was overweight and low in confidence. He had a natural ability in football and it was about building his confidence and working on what he was good at.

“Seeing how he has developed has been tremendous. In future he will need to try to overcome knock-backs but he takes it in stride and gets along with people in the club.”

 

He said Hamish’s strengths included his loyalty, bravado, determination, and size.

“Physically he is big and he uses it to his advantage. He has knocked down a few players back in the day. He is a good goal scorer and works hard. He has got to focus now and his main aim is to try to extend his contract.”

Mr McIntyre said while Hamish deserves to be in the Phoenix there is always room for improvement.

“He is still coming to terms with his contract and you really need to look after yourself in a professional environment. He needs to believe that he deserves to be there but he needs to try hard as he may not get another chance.”

The 20 year old has been playing football for most of his life and said he could not imagine life without it.

“There’s just something about it. Every morning when I wake up it’s all I can think about. I can’t think of much that I would rather do.”

Hamish’s father Stu Watson said his son’s affection for football started early.

“I would sit him in front of the T.V to watch football videos to shut him up when he was a baby.”

Mr Watson said when Hamish was four-years-old he had his first interaction with Lower Hutt Football Club, but due to his shyness they decided to wait a year.

“For the next year he had me out in the back garden nearly every day practising, so when he started playing the next year when he was five he was on fire.”

Hamish had tears in his eyes when he told him the news.

Watson. headshot Hagen Hopkins

FRESH FACE: Hamish Watson is signed with the Phoenix until June, 2014. Photo by Hagen Hopkins.

“I thought he must have crashed the car or something, but he said the Phoenix want to sign him till the end of the season, so we were jumping up and down hugging in the kitchen.”

Hamish has until the end of June to prove he belongs in a professional football environment.

“Hopefully if I do well in these three months then I can earn a contract for two or three years. Being from Lower Hutt it’s a dream to play for them. I want to establish myself with them and become a main striker.”

He said the salary from the Phoenix means he does not need a part time job and can focus on his training and football.

“I want to make it my job for however long my body will handle it. I will look after myself and stay injury free for as long as possible. I have been lucky so far.”

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is is a Whitireia journalism student with a BA from Victoria University with English literature and media studies majors.
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