CHASING THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Jacob Van Zanden has made the touch football under-20 Australian squad.
CHASING THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Jacob Van Zanden has made the touch football under-20 Australian squad. Contributed

Jacob's got the magic touch

Touch football: Jacob Van Zanden is taking the world by storm after he was selected for the touch football under-20 Australian squad.

The 19-year-old will be boarding a plane for Kuala Lumpur this Sunday for the Youth World Cup, a four day comp kicking off next Wednesday.

This isn't the first time Van Zanden has travelled overseas to represent Australia. He represented Australia in the under-18 team against New Zealand in January, 2017.

He said it was such an honour to wear the green and gold and represent, not only his country, but also his family and friends.

"To do this alongside some of my best mates makes it even better,” he said.

"We have 10 round games and hopefully finals to follow.

"We will be competing against New Zealand, South Africa, China, Hong Kong and India.

"Ultimately, we want to return home as Youth World Champs.”

Van Zanden said he first got involved in touch football playing socially when he was eight years old in his home town, Emerald.

"Playing in the local comp every Wednesday with all my mates was always a lot of fun,” he said.

"My first Queensland selection was under-12 school boys whilst attending Emerald State School in 2011.

"In 2012 I went to boarding school and got involved with the Rockhampton Touch Association.

"I furthered my touch skills under the coaching staff of Gary and Jayden Benbow who helped me improve and develop as a player both on and off the field.

"Without the coaching from Gary and Jayden I don't think I would be where I am today.”

Van Zanden said he would like to be chosen to represent his country again in the future.

"Hopefully one day I can represent a team in the NRL Touch Premiership,” he said.

Van Zanden's mum Renee Van Zanden said he had always given 100 per cent and his selection into the squad was a credit to his dedication and hard work.

"We are so proud of everything he has achieved in his lifetime and can't wait to see how all the Aussies go,” she said.

"We will be cheering him on from home.”


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