18-year-old West-Aucklander Troy Armstrong didn’t fly home with the New Zealand team following their final game and win over South Africa at the FINA World Men’s Youth Championships in Montenegro.
Instead, the Waitakere player stayed on in Europe and has gained experience with clubs in Croatia, and has now landed a fully professional two-year contract with Turkish club ASSK Adalar, Instanbul.
He scored six goals in as many games in New Zealand’s campaign at the world championships in September, and has lifted another notch since. Not only has he scored the pro contract, but he’s solidified himself a position in the club’s starting line up in the Turkish league.
“The experience I gain playing in Europe in one of the top countries in the world for water polo is huge.
“I’m playing against and with some of the top players from all around the world, and coached by some of the best in Europe” said Armstrong.
His team plays in the first division of the Turkish League, which has attracted the likes of retired Serbian Igor Milanovic who played for Yugoslavia and is widely-recognised as the world’s best-ever centre forward.
“We train incredibly hard and playing with the guys that have played all over Europe makes you learn so much.”
New Zealand men’s coach Goran Sablic lined up the contract for Troy, but ultimately, it was up to him to prove his worth in the water and catch the eyes of the international coaches at the world championships.
“After world champs I had been approached by a club from Montenegro, but Goran helped me get a trial with my current club. After that, it was up to me to show them who I am.” he said.
It was all go from there, he’s now in the team’s starting line up as a centre forward, as well as boasting the titles of the youngest paid player in the team and the youngest foreign player in the entire Turkish League. An impressive CV for an 18-year-old player from Green Bay High School, but you won’t catch him shouting it from the rooftops.
“A huge thanks goes to mum for always being my number one supporter,” he says, “and to my coach Goran for always giving me the right guidance and mentoring.
“This isn’t only a water polo experience but a life experience. I never thought the sport that I played as a kid would be my job now.”
This story originally appear on New Zealand Water Polo.