Dane Ingham is set to represent his Samoan roots when he makes his debut at the Tokyo Olympics this week.
Eligible to represent New Zealand, Australia and Samoa, Ingham opted to play for New Zealand and made his debut in 2017 at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifier – OFC Stage Three match against Fiji.
But despite the 22-year-old’s on-field allegiance and pride in wearing the Fern, he understands the responsibility of also representing his family lineage.
“My mum comes from a Samoan background, our culture is strong, we’ve been brought up on the foundation of family values,” he said.
“I know family is huge in any Pacific country, so I know when I’m in Japan I’m representing mine, especially my mum.
“My mum is my number one supporter she’s always there through good and bad games, I love her.
“Being Samoan in the team doesn’t come around often too and I’m proud to hold this title.”
Ingham started his professional career with A-League side Brisbane Roar in 2017 before moving to Perth Glory based in Western Australia two years later.
He’s already achieved milestones in his young career and hopes it encourages other footballers across the Oceanian region.
“I’m still dreaming of bigger goals, and I believe the dream never dies,” he said.
“The passion still burns inside of me to get to more places like the Olympics or a FIFA World Cup.
“Everything is possible through hard work and it’s important to drive on the support and inspiration of your family, pull on them for energy.”
The OlyWhites, led by head coach Danny Hay, have been listed in Group B alongside Honduras and Romania and will open their campaign against the Republic of Korea on July 22.
The squad boasts of talent such as English Premier League star Chris Wood and Wellington Phoenix’s Clayton Lewis.
Ingham said he has full belief in his side ahead of the tournament kick-off.
“It’s a massive event and a once in a lifetime opportunity to represent New Zealand, it’s very special,” he said.
“Don’t get me wrong we’re going over there to compete, we want everyone to know that we are New Zealand Football.”