Gisborne's George Andrew loves playing football for Grand Canyon University in Arizona

Kiwi stateside scorer: Gisborne's George Andrew (No.4) celebrates scoring the winner for Grand Canyon University against Oklahoma City. Picture supplied

APART from “getting a bit of stick” about his Kiwi accent, Gisborne’s George Andrew is loving life and playing football in America.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High School and Team Gisborne centreback — who signed a four-year football scholarship with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona — scored the winning goal in his third game for Grand Canyon.

“We’ve had three games since I’ve been here — against Phoenix College, Toronto FC seconds and OKC (Oklahoma City) Energy,” said the 18-year-old son of Gisborne couple Peter and Belinda Andrew.

“In my first game, when I got 20 minutes, we beat Phoenix 3-2, and it should have been more.”

Andrew’s next game (30 minutes, off the bench) was against Toronto FC seconds.

“Their players are all battling for a pro contract with the club,” he said.

“They were well organised and won 2-0.”

Andrew opened his scoring account for Grand Canyon when he came off the bench with 15 minutes remaining against OKC Energy (Oklahoma City) and scored with a diving header from a corner.

OKC are a professional team and are paid tens of thousands a year . . . 'It felt incredible to score'

“OKC are a professional team and all the players are paid tens of thousands a year to play.”

“It felt incredible to score. It hasn’t happened a lot for me in the past couple of years.”

Andrew said he was happy to come off the bench but was now looking to push his claims for a starting spot.

“Initially it was good to get on the field and experience the standard of football, which is high.

“Between now and August, when the season officially starts, the aim is to be first-choice centreback or fullback.

“I’m currently the joint third choice for both positions.”

Andrew said the coaches were happy with how he had progressed but they wanted to see more from him defensively, especially in one-on-one situations.

Before leaving New Zealand for the United States, Andrew helped Eastern Surburbs to third place in the National Youth League last year.

“The training at Grand Canyon is intense.

“It’s a battle every day. Everyone gives 100 percent. You can’t slacken for a single day.

“When everyone’s back at uni in the summer there will be 30 players trying to get into the starting 11. You have to fight every day in training to try to earn a spot in the team.

“When I first arrived (early January), we weren’t allowed to train with the coaches for a month, due to an NCAA rule.

'The first month we did only fitness and weights, five days a week . . . now I am at the same level as everyone else'

“The first month we did only fitness and weights, five days a week, which I struggled with at the start. But my body has adapted now and I’m at the same level as everyone else.

“The weight room and training pitch are top-class and all the coaching staff are incredible.”

Andrew said Grand Canyon played a more direct style of football than many teams.

“They love to play long diagonal balls over the top of the defensive line.

“We play in a large stadium and during the season in excess of 6000 fans might watch.

“Some of our players are very talented and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few go pro in the future.

“Soccer is probably the second favourite sport for fans to watch behind basketball, but the interest is definitely up there.”

Andrew said Phoenix was very hot and dry.

“We’re in the middle of winter and it’s rained once, and frequently hits 30 degrees during the day.

“The university itself is very modern and new and they are constantly expanding the campus.”

Andrew is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, specialising in exercise science.

“The ultimate dream would be to get my degree then get a contract with a Major League Soccer club.”

APART from “getting a bit of stick” about his Kiwi accent, Gisborne’s George Andrew is loving life and playing football in America.

The former Gisborne Boys’ High School and Team Gisborne centreback — who signed a four-year football scholarship with Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona — scored the winning goal in his third game for Grand Canyon.

“We’ve had three games since I’ve been here — against Phoenix College, Toronto FC seconds and OKC (Oklahoma City) Energy,” said the 18-year-old son of Gisborne couple Peter and Belinda Andrew.

“In my first game, when I got 20 minutes, we beat Phoenix 3-2, and it should have been more.”

Andrew’s next game (30 minutes, off the bench) was against Toronto FC seconds.

“Their players are all battling for a pro contract with the club,” he said.

“They were well organised and won 2-0.”

Andrew opened his scoring account for Grand Canyon when he came off the bench with 15 minutes remaining against OKC Energy (Oklahoma City) and scored with a diving header from a corner.

OKC are a professional team and are paid tens of thousands a year . . . 'It felt incredible to score'

“OKC are a professional team and all the players are paid tens of thousands a year to play.”

“It felt incredible to score. It hasn’t happened a lot for me in the past couple of years.”

Andrew said he was happy to come off the bench but was now looking to push his claims for a starting spot.

“Initially it was good to get on the field and experience the standard of football, which is high.

“Between now and August, when the season officially starts, the aim is to be first-choice centreback or fullback.

“I’m currently the joint third choice for both positions.”

Andrew said the coaches were happy with how he had progressed but they wanted to see more from him defensively, especially in one-on-one situations.

Before leaving New Zealand for the United States, Andrew helped Eastern Surburbs to third place in the National Youth League last year.

“The training at Grand Canyon is intense.

“It’s a battle every day. Everyone gives 100 percent. You can’t slacken for a single day.

“When everyone’s back at uni in the summer there will be 30 players trying to get into the starting 11. You have to fight every day in training to try to earn a spot in the team.

“When I first arrived (early January), we weren’t allowed to train with the coaches for a month, due to an NCAA rule.

'The first month we did only fitness and weights, five days a week . . . now I am at the same level as everyone else'

“The first month we did only fitness and weights, five days a week, which I struggled with at the start. But my body has adapted now and I’m at the same level as everyone else.

“The weight room and training pitch are top-class and all the coaching staff are incredible.”

Andrew said Grand Canyon played a more direct style of football than many teams.

“They love to play long diagonal balls over the top of the defensive line.

“We play in a large stadium and during the season in excess of 6000 fans might watch.

“Some of our players are very talented and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few go pro in the future.

“Soccer is probably the second favourite sport for fans to watch behind basketball, but the interest is definitely up there.”

Andrew said Phoenix was very hot and dry.

“We’re in the middle of winter and it’s rained once, and frequently hits 30 degrees during the day.

“The university itself is very modern and new and they are constantly expanding the campus.”

Andrew is studying for a Bachelor of Science degree, specialising in exercise science.

“The ultimate dream would be to get my degree then get a contract with a Major League Soccer club.”

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