Watch: 'So if it's my dream, I got to take it no matter what' - Auckland kid closer to realising Brazilian football goal

For any Kiwi footballer, an opportunity to train on the grounds where global superstars like Pele and Neymar started off is a dream come true.

At just nine-years-old, Mahaki Pomare-Rakena has done more than that after a video of his skills earned him invitations to train in the futsal departments of some of Brazil's most prestigious clubs.

Mahaki Pomare-Rakena and Anas Al-Afaghani were invited to train with Brazilian clubs including Santos. Source: Supplied

He and another aspiring junior, eight-year-old Anas Al-Afaghani, trained at eight clubs including Santos, Fluminense, Parana, Atletico Paranaense and Santa Cruz over five weeks. The trip was arranged by their Auckland-based futsal coach Callum Christopher, who also accompanied them to Brazil.

Santos, the club where Pele starred for 18 years, and others have invited the pair back for futher training in the future while Parana and Santa Cruz have offered Pomare-Rakena an opportunity to play in their futsal programme during the first half of next year.

Raised in a Maori family in Mt Roskill, Pomare-Rakena used to play both rugby league and football on the weekends, but it was clear from an early age which code he was passionate about.

"I used to kick any ball. Tennis ball or basketball, a rugby ball – even socks," said Pomare-Rakena.

The Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o nga Maungarongo student trains three times a week in Christopher's futsal programme, which uses a curriculum and methodology derived from Brazil's top clubs.

He plays above his age grade in Auckland and will be even better after matching up against kids in Brazil.

"How we play rugby, they play soccer as hard as us," he said.

Under FIFA regulations, neither player can sign a playing contract with an overseas club until they turn 18. They are permitted to train only or play as guests in their futsal programme, which has been used as a stepping stone for a number of professional players.

"So if it's my dream, I got to take it no matter what," Pomare-Rakena said.

"I only get one chance at life to have this, have like an opportunity like this."

Mahaki Pomare-Rakena was invited to some of the most prestigious clubs in Brazil. Source: 1 NEWS


Phoenix confirm signing of ex-Real Madrid youngster Mandi

The Wellington Phoenix have confirmed their second signing in as many days, unveiling Spanish midfielder Mandi as their final overseas player for the upcoming season.

Mandi, whose full name is Armando Sosa Pena, 29, joins having recently played for Spanish second division side Almeria, but has also spent time playing for Real Madrid's Castilla side, playing alongside the likes of Alvaro Morata, Dani Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez.

The defensive midfielder has been on trial with the club since September, taking part in their tour of Sydney, and joins yesterday's addition Max Burgess on the Phoenix's roster.

Mandi becomes the fourth and final overseas player on the Phoenix's roster, with goalkeeper Filip Kurto, defender Steven Taylor, and midfielder Michal Kopczynski already on the club's books.

Striker Roy Krishna is also considered an overseas player, although is awaiting a decision having applied for New Zealand citizenship.

In a media release, Mandi spoke of his excitement at both joining the Phoenix, as well as living in Wellington.

"I felt like something new and I like New Zealand and what I have seen," he said.

"Not only will I be living in a beautiful country but I will be playing in the A-League which I think will be a big challenge given the quality of the players here."

Coach Mark Rudan welcomed Mandi's arrival, saying:

"I watched him when I was in Europe and he will complement our defensive structure in the middle of the park.

"He is another player that will work extremely hard for the team and gives their all on the pitch so he will slot in perfectly.

"He is not only a defensive rock but also possesses leadership qualities having captained teams he's played for."

The Phoenix play their first match of the new A-League season against the Newcastle Jets on October 21.

New Phoenix signing Mandi
New Phoenix signing Mandi Source: Elche CF



Beleaguered Deryck Shaw fronts after quitting as NZ Football president, in wake of damning review

Former New Zealand Football president Deryck Shaw has spoken after handing in his resignation, in the wake of Philippa Muir's review into the organisation's recent turmoil.

After the tumultuous recent developments within New Zealand Football led to the resignations of both CEO Andy Martin and Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf, Shaw has become the latest casualty of an organisation in crisis.

Under pressure in his role as president, since the release of Phillipa Muir's review into the conduct and governance of New Zealand Football released last week, Shaw has today fallen on his sword, with vice president Philip Barry taking over his role.

Speaking to 1 NEWS, Shaw explained that he feels it is for the greater good that he steps down.

"In the best interest of Football New Zealand, the best thing is for me to step down," he began.

"I've made the decision, really thinking about the future of football, and for the game to move forward in the country."

Shaw also insists that he was not pressured into resigning, despite Muir's review finding he and the executive committee were too "hands off," with half of the review's recommendations relating to the board.

"I actually had a lot of support following the review.

"Certainly had a lot of support within the football membership, and post the review outcomes, had a lot of support.

"But I thought, weighing everything up, the right thing to do is to step down to allow the game to move forward.

"The only thing I'm really regretful of, is that I won't be part of the board implementing the findings of the review."

Shaw also refused to say whether or not the entire New Zealand Football board need to resign as well.

"I think that's really a matter for the membership, it's not for me to say who should or shouldn't be around the board table, and they'll make their decisions accordingly."

Deryck Shaw is the latest casualty of the inner turmoil at New Zealand Football. Source: 1 NEWS



New Zealand Football president resigns after scathing review into organisation

Another high profile member of New Zealand Football has stood down, with president Deryck Shaw understood to have handed in his resignation today.

Shaw had been under pressure in his role as president, following the release of Phillipa Muir's review into the conduct and governance of New Zealand Football, released last week.

The review stated that Shaw and the executive committee were too "hands off," with half of Muir's recommendations relating to the board.

He is the second board member to walk away since the review's release, with Jon Ormond quitting last week in the wake of Muir's findings.

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

Vice president Philip Barry will serve as interim president, until next year's annual congress.

Deryck Shaw
Deryck Shaw Source: Photosport


Wellington Phoenix confirm signing of attacking midfielder Max Burgess

The Wellington Phoenix have stepped up their recruitment drive ahead of the new A-League season, signing Australian attacking midfielder Max Burgess.

Burgess, 23, joins the Nix on a one-year deal, coming off the back of a season having won the NSW National Premier League with Sydney Olympic FC, scoring seven goals in 27 appearances.

"I am extremely excited to be signing with the Wellington Phoenix and I am determined to make my mark with my new team," Burgess said in a statement.

"When I heard of the interest, I jumped at the chance and with the encouragement I have received from Mark Rudan, I can't wait to get started."

Coach Rudan spoke of his delight at securing Burgess' signature, with the versatile attacker having impressed against the Phoenix in pre-season.

"He has tasted Hyundai A-League experience before, but I feel he has plenty more to show," Rudan said.

"I'm looking forward to having his attributes and his hard work ethic within the squad."

Burgess has represented both Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets previously in the A-League.

New Phoenix signing Max Burgess
New Phoenix signing Max Burgess Source: Getty