Touch star off to NZ
ALL-ROUND athlete Jacob Van Zanden is an Australian star in the making - and now a Queensland touch football representative.
Outstanding performances for his club and school teams have seen the 16-year-old Emerald product rewarded with a Queensland rep jumper.
But it is a trip to New Zealand with the Queensland side in January that really puts the icing on the cake.
"I am very excited," Van Zanden said.
"We are going to the north island - Auckland, Waikato and a few counties. It will be a great trip.
"I made the Queensland squad for under-12s but have only made shadow selection since then."
At the start of the year Van Zanden was playing rugby league, union and touch while balancing his studies at St Brendan's Yeppoon.
He made the choice to focus all his efforts on one sport and touch was where his heart lay.
"I stopped playing league halfway through the year to focus on touch as my goal was to make the Queensland team," he said.
"Somehow I still do pretty well at school too. I want to do something in sports science, like physio or something similar.
"My goal now is to make the Australian team. I have to play well at all the touch carnivals now that I have been identified, and hope for the best."
Van Zanden began his trade at the Emerald Touch Association in Grade 4 and has been playing ever since.
He has been playing in the men's A-grade competition since Year 8 - a challenging task playing against men week in, week out. These challenges no doubt have paved the way for his recent success.
"I definitely struggled playing against men at first. It was a lot more serious and the teams are stacked with rep players," he said.
"I had to catch the bus to Rockhampton every Wednesday after school but I guess playing in that competition made me ready for rep level."
Jacob said there were many players he looked up to.
"I don't really have a favourite touch player, although the older Rocky boys are great role models.
"But my favourite football star would be Shaun Johnson (Warriors and New Zealand halfback) - just for his stepping and attacking game."
People can help raise funds for Jacob's trip across the ditch by attending a fundraising night at the Emerald Cinemas, where all funds from the premiere of 007 James Bond Spectre will be donated.
Open Men's Touch
U16 CQ Bulls
Open Men All Schools
U16 State Cup winners
U16 Qld Touch
U18 National Youth Touch
U15 All Schools coach
U16 Rocky Dev Squad
Best and Fairest Cap Coast Brothers
St Brendan's Western 7s winners
St Brendan's Sports Person of the Year nominee