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Hawke’s Bay Football Coach Makes The Headlines

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If it hasn’t happened already, the name of Leon Birnie will be rolling off the lips of countless followers of the beautiful game in New Zealand for some time.

So who is Birnie? No, I mean who REALLY is the Kiwi bloke who has been quietly plotting the demise of powerhouses at the girls’ Fifa Under-17 World Cup in Uruguay for the past month?

“Look, he’s just a fellow from little Hawke’s Bay who has been working hard behind the scenes,” said the 36-year-old from Napier who eventually spoke from Montevideo when his cellphone overcame “congestion” due to an overload of calls minutes after his young charges beat Canada 2-1 for bronze medals, thanks to a brace of goals from striker Grace Wisnewski early in the first half.

“You know, he’s done a lot of preparations, attended a lot of coaching courses, a lot of time has been spent talking to others to present my case over the last 10 to 14 years so I’ve taken the opportunities I’ve got,” said the Central Football development officer based at Park Island after their final feat at the Estadio Charrúa yesterday morning.

Photo: Leon Birnie (3rd from right) with his loyal coaching stable members Rachel Finlay (left), Nicky Evens, Amitesh Kumar, Max Tommy, Janina Aricheta, Gemma Lewis and Michael Mayne

For morCapturee on this and other great Hawke’s Bay stories go to

Posted: 3 December 2018

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