OFC President David Chung, left, congratulates Brian Kaltack on
signing an OFC-sponsored trainee deal with the Phoenix.
While he will not be an official member of the playing squad, the 18-year-old defender will be immersed completely into the Phoenix environment under coach Ricki Herbert, training every day with the club’s players and experiencing life as a professional footballer.
The opportunity would not have been possible without the financial support of OFC, who have provided NZ$15,000 to cover Kaltack’s accommodation, meals, transport and other living costs.
“We are pleased to be able to give a player of such promise this opportunity,” OFC General Secretary Tai Nicholas says.
“It is essential to the development of football in the Oceania region that our young players have a pathway to the top and the potential to earn a living from the game. Brian knows he must work hard to achieve his goal of becoming a professional but he now has the ideal opportunity to do so.”
Kaltack is one of a number of young talents to come out of the small island nation after a successful launch of the FIFA Goal Football Programme back in 2009. Vanuatu was chosen amongst five other countries globally for the pilot project, which sees promising players identified at a young age and housed in an academy where they train together daily.
His agreement with the Phoenix began at the end of last month and he will be with the club as a trainee until January 26.
Phoenix football operations manager Mal Impiombato says Herbert and his coaching staff are happy to have Kaltack on board and believe he has a bright future.
“It is our intention to develop Brian as a footballer, with the long-term goal of hopefully improving the player to develop into a professional with our club,” Impiombato says.
The teenager, who has only just blown out the candles on his 18th birthday cake, is delighted to have taken the first step on a journey he hopes will lead to a fulltime contract.
“I am very happy because it has always been my aim to become a professional footballer,” he says. “I hope I can reach the level of the other players one day and play in the A-League.”
Kaltack has been in Wellington since arriving from his native Port Vila in May to play for amateur club Waterside Karori in the Capital Premier League.
The centre back played a key role in the Wharfies’ season and it wasn’t long before Herbert took note of his talents. The Phoenix and All Whites coach invited Kaltack to attend regular training sessions with the club over the off-season before agreeing on the OFC-sponsored three-month trainee deal.
“He is a good coach and has been very kind to me,” Kaltack says of the man who led New Zealand through an undefeated 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign.
“It is amazing to train with the Phoenix players because they are so experienced. They have taken me under their wing and helped me to improve in areas I was not so good.”
Kaltack has been living with a host family during his time in Wellington and will remain with them throughout his Phoenix experience.
“They have taken me in as one of their own children and look after me really well,” he says.
“It is hard sometimes because I miss my family and friends back home but this is too good an opportunity to pass up.”