8,933 Miles from Home: The Jaspers from New Zealand

By Brooke DellaRocco, Staff Writer

The men’s soccer team is stoked to welcome four players from New Zealand for the 2022 season. These international players have traveled 8,933 miles away from home to play for Manhattan College.

Harry Bark, Henry Hamilton, Liam Moore and Noah Boyce trained at the same soccer club, Wellington Phoenix Football Club in Wellington, New Zealand before deciding to pursue their careers at the same small liberal arts college in New York City. 

The Wellington Phoenix Football Club is a professional soccer organization that strives to seek out opportunities for talented players. Many of the boys had to move away from home at a young age to pursue their soccer dreams. 

Bark and Hamilton reflected on this experience, mentioning the large amount of time they would spend with each other every day, training, cooking, and even washing cars. 

The academy connected its players with an agent from Wagner and Woolfe-Elite College Sports Recruitment, who contacted many Division 1 and 2 programs all over the country, sending schools in the U.S. highlight reels and statistics. 

“Coming over here, everyone is pretty shocked you’re from New Zealand. People don’t really know where New Zealand is or they’ve never met anyone from New Zealand before, which is pretty cool,” Bark said.

Liam Moore was first to come to the Bronx, starting in January of 2021, where he later  played a game of telephone and encouraged Harry Bark to attend Manhattan College as well. Bark and Boyce came in the fall of 2021 and Hamilton followed in the Spring of 2022. Still, there were many other reasons why MC felt like the right place for Bark.

“I really liked the interest Jorden, the head coach, was taking in me. He thought highly of me so I thought it would be the best option to come here,” Bark said.

The team seems to greatly benefit from having these players on their roster because of the experience these men have in professional soccer. When asked about the playing environment in New Zealand, Bark shared it was all-consuming and had a level of professionalism that the New Zealanders brought with them to MC’s program. 

 Hamilton added that he believed the four’s dedication to the sport set them apart from other players. The Wellington Phoenix football club deemed a large commitment for the boys as they have been a part of the program for a long time, Hamilton with 6 years of experience.

“We’re all really honest, hard workers,” Hamilton said. “I think you know what you’re going to get out of us. We’ll put our best foot forward.” 

To comprehend the distance and sacrifice these players have made to attend MC and pursue their dream, it is important to understand the timeline. All 4 boys started initiating their transition to Manhattan College when COVID-19 was beginning or thriving among the states. This made it very difficult for some to see their families and even travel back home. While the Jaspers expressed how difficult it is to be apart from their family, most of them try to find comfort through the campus, finding similarities that remind them of home. 

“I was kind of amazed at how beautiful the grounds were, especially in the Bronx where it’s quite hard to have beauty like that, and it kind of just reminded me of home,” Noah Boyce stated. 

Hamilton mentioned that he is still transitioning and experiencing all that New York has to offer, even displaying shock at the fact he is playing soccer in NYC.

“It’s not even a dream come true, because I never would have dreamed it, to be honest. I can’t explain it,” Hamilton said.

With so many opportunities calling towards them they all chose the one where they get to be among each other experiencing college soccer.

“In the world of football, you sort of grow as a team,” Hamilton said. “You might play one or two seasons as a team together, and then you pretty much go your separate ways.” 

With Moore being older, the boys watched his transition to Manhattan College as they all continued to play in New Zealand back in 2019 and 2020. Bark and Hamilton played together for the longest, getting to experience the FIFA U-17 World Cup on the same team. 

With so much talent sprouting from this team, many are excited to see what they accomplish this season. All 4 players are very grateful for the opportunity they have earned since they cannot attend college back home and pursue their sport. 

With no university teams in New Zealand, you have to decide what you want your future to entail: education or sports. By traveling so far from home, they are able to pursue both. These boys made the sacrifice to come here and play for MC, and the community could not be more excited to have them as Jaspers.