McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year Nic Millichip says he can hardly believe he and his family are at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan.
Millichip, named national winner of the McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year competition, took in the Navy Blues official training session at Yokohama International Stadium ahead of tonight’s big match with Kashima Antlers.
“It’s been pretty good so far. Japan is great, the kids have been really excited about it and the flight up was good. They both really enjoyed that and getting here. They’ve settled down well and they’ve had a really neat day out today,” he says.
“The team have been really welcoming and having dinner with the team last night was pretty cool. Socialising with Auckland City has been a very nice experience for all of us.”
A Katikati FC volunteer, Millichip admits standing in Yokohama International Stadium, the scene of Brazil’s FIFA World Cup final triumph over Germany in 2002, is surreal.
“Not on my life did I ever think I would be here. I never started volunteering in football for that reason at all,” he says.
“Who knows how that’s happened but it’s absolutely amazing that it has. I would never have thought that to be honest.”
Millichip, who mentors the Gunners 10th-grade team for Tauranga-based Katikati, was named as one of seven federation-based regional winners in the McDonald’s Junior Football Coach of the Year competition, which brought an equipment pack to be used for training and games.
Now, with the Club World Cup just hours away from kick-off, he believes Auckland City will have a tough night when they face J.League champions Kashima Antlers.
“Its going to be a tough game. They’re a decent team to get through the J.League and the way they’ve played,” he says.
“Auckland City are no mugs and they’re well in it, I’ve got high hopes they’ll win to be honest. It’s going to be a hell of a game.”
Millichip found out he was on his way to the FIFA Club World Cup when Cliff Harris, WaiBOP’s Football Development Coordinator for the Bay of Plenty region, dropped in to training to surprise him with the award.
A former wine-maker by trade, Millichip is used to being patient before realising a rewarding product in his professional life, so he recognises New Zealand Football’s processes in the same way at junior and youth level.
“I would just like to thank New Zealand Football and McDonald’s for the effort they put in to make this happen. The Junior Framework, the Youth Framework and the whole plan around how coaches are being developed and the way the game is being developed together to progress football in New Zealand is fantastic,” he says.
“We’ve created environments conducive to getting us to the point to where we’re getting technically better at the game and this is just phenomenal. It bodes well for the future and the investment put into that is incredible. All credit to New Zealand Football for making that possible.”
The seven-team FIFA Club World Cup takes place in Japan from December 8 to 18.
Auckland City is pleased to announce that its Kiwitea Street clubrooms are open for Thursday night’s FIFA Club World Cup play-off clash between the Navy Blues and J.League champions Kashima Antlers.
Doors to the clubrooms open at 9.30pm NZST with light refreshments and drinks available on the night. Broadcast of the FIFA Club World Cup play-off begins on Sky Sport 2 from 11pm NZST and entry to the clubrooms is free.
Auckland City FC: 1. Enaut Zubikarai (GK), 3. Takuya Iwata, 5. Angel Berlanga (c), 6. Harshae Raniga, 7. Reid Drake, 8. Albert Riera, 9. Darren White, 10. Ryan De Vries, 11. Fabrizio Tavano, 12. Nicolai Berry, 13. Alfie Rogers, 14. Clayton Lewis, 15. Ivan Vicelich, 16. Dae Wook Kim, 17. Joao Moreira, 18. Danyon Drake (GK), 19. Micah Lea’alafa, 20. Emiliano Tade, 21. Harry Edge, 23. Marko Dordevic, 24. Jacob Spoonley (GK), 29. Sean Cooper.
Injured: 4. Mario Bilen (hamstring)
Coach: Ramon Tribulietx