A debut is never easy; adrenaline is pumping and nerves are high.
Team Wellington’s defender Taylor Schrijvers vividly recalls his debut. It was against the Phoenix reserves in an A-League curtain-raiser at Westpac Stadium last season.
“I was very nervous- I had to feel my way into the game. It was a daunting experience coming on in the middle of the stadium. Pretty overwhelming.”
Schrijvers is evidence of successful youth development. He feels the youth team played a crucial role in building his career.
“It worked really well for me getting my name into the Team Wellington franchise and into the first team for the Oceania Champions League (last season).”
Although Schrijvers has noticed a big step up in professionalism in the Stirling Sports Premiership.
“It’s a different level- the game is a lot faster and more physical. It is also more mentally taxing. You need to focus 24/7. There is a lot more time spent analysing and preparing for games.”
Thanks to the support of senior mentors, Schrijvers has quickly adjusted to the increased physical and mental demands.
“After I got into the Team Wellington environment, some of the boys like Andy Bevin took me under his wing and obviously watching Bill (Robertson) play as a centre back has been great. He is a good role-model.”
Born and bred in Lower Hutt, Schrijvers progressed through the local footballing ranks. After graduating from Hutt Valley High School, he worked his way up to the Lower Hutt City first team.
His leadership ability was noticed at an early age. He captained the Lower Hutt City Under-19 team and then progressed to captain the Team Wellington 2015 youth team.
Schrijvers learnt a lot about the challenges of leadership last year.
“I learnt a lot about standing up and taking ownership for the team. A key part of my role was setting high standards for the team.”
Given his experience, he has a clear view on what makes a great captain.
“Someone who can lead by example. He doesn’t need to be the best player on the pitch. He’s got to show a lot of heart and be able to organise the troops.”
Schrijvers is happy with his performances so far this season. He gained his first start for Team Wellington and is starting to settle into his role.
“I’m happy to be getting some game time. It took me a while to adapt to the speed of the game, I was probably a bit shaky in the first few (games). I think I’m getting better as the season progresses.”
Schrijvers does not lack drive. His goal is to play football at the highest level.
“I think the goal would be to play for the All Whites, that’s every New Zealand footballers goal.”
At the age of 19, Schrijvers has time on his side. For now, he just loves absorbing the experience and picking the brains of those around him.
- Rory Milne