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Southern United Youth player Oliver Colloty gains valuable experience while trialling for Reading FC in the UK.

By Holly Percival

Dunedin boy Oliver Colloty has recently returned from a two-week stint trialling for UK Championship team Reading FC.

The opportunity arose following a string of impressive performances within the Southern United Academy and Youth teams in 2018 which led to him breaking into and debuting for the first team at the young age of 15.

United head coach Paul O’Reilly made contact with a number of people in the UK and Reading were immediately interested in taking an extended look at the Otago Boys High School student.

Colloty spent the past two weeks training and playing with the Reading U18s and U16s squads at the world class Hogwood Park training ground.

Speaking about his experience, Colloty was very thankful for the opportunity that was given to him. He said: “It took me a few days to get used to the speed of play and physicality. The intensity throughout the two weeks was relentless.

“It was great to train and compete against some top-quality players. The coaches were very welcoming, they were really helpful and gave me lots of good advice that I hope to implement in the coming season for Southern,” he added.

Danny Ledwith, Colloty’s head coach in the United Academy, was delighted to see one of his players get such an exciting opportunity, but also reminded Colloty of the importance of staying grounded.

He said: “The opportunity for Oliver to train and play in a full-time professional environment will definitely help him to develop as a player, but it’s critical that this trial in the UK isn’t the end point.

“Oliver has lots of potential and if he continues to apply himself as he has done over the past two years, he should be looking to establish himself in the Southern United first team squad over the next 18months, and from there greater opportunities may materialise,” Ledwith added.

However, there is no rest for Colloty as he is heading straight back into training with Southern United this week, with his focus on the upcoming National Youth League and the NZF National Age Grade Tournament in December.

The 16-year-old made it clear in what he wants to achieve in this upcoming season. He said: “Eventually I’d love to get a contract offer in the UK, at a professional level, but for now my focus is on impressing the coaches at Southern and playing as many Youth and possibly Senior games as I possibly can”.

“If I can play regularly for Southern I think it’ll put me in a good position to push for selection to New Zealand squads over the next few seasons,” said Colloty.

His mother, Paula Colloty, who accompanied him to Reading during his trial period, was over the moon with the opportunity her son was offered. She said: “It was great to see Oliver compete at that high a level. The quality of the facilities, the level of play and the professionalism was something we’ve never experienced before.”

Reading FC are a category level one Academy under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) system in the UK, the highest rank an academy can have.

Based in Berkshire, 45 minutes from London, Reading have a rich history of identifying and developing young talented players to become full time professionals at the highest level. Although Colloty was not offered a contract, he’ll look to return to the UK for further opportunities in 2020.

Updated 10:15 - 8 Aug 2019 by Holly Percival

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