On 1 August there is an event happening called The Rotary Forum. The theme for this years event is ‘Achieving the impossible dream for Wellington, city and region’.
We sat down with Louis Fenton of the Wellington Phoenix and asked him what he thinks about living, working, and planning a future in Wellington. The Phoenix are part of the Hyundai A-League and are the only Kiwi team in the Australian League. Enjoy.
How long have you lived in Wellington? My whole life!
How long have you been playing for the Phoenix? Since 2012, and I’m really glad. It’s a best case scenario for me. I’m living in the place I call home, for the team I supported growing up. It’s pretty special.
“If someone comes on a trial at our club everyone is nice to them. I went for a trial in Germany and no-one talked to me from the team for 1 month.”
What is your favorite place in Wellington? On a sunny day - Oriental Bay. Unbelieveable views and it’s never too busy. On a cold day - I go to a coffee shop. Places like Pre-fab.
What do overseas players say about Wellington? Players from overseas talk about how relaxed it is here in Wellington. There isn’t the mandate to impress people off the field like their is in England and at European clubs. And if someone comes on a trial at our club everyone is nice to them. I went for a trial in Germany and no-one talked to me from the team for 1 month.
In your own words what makes Wellington unique? You can walk everywhere. We travel to cities in Australia like Melbourne and Sydney and only see the hotel room and the football stadiums. In Wellington it’s different. I know the Aussie teams often stay a little bit longer in Wellington!
What did teenage Louis think of Wellington? Initially seemed like a really big city.
And… now that you’re older? Sometimes it feels small, like everyone knows everyone. But it can be a really good thing, especially if you need help for anything in Wellington. There is always someone willing to help. I find Wellington to also be really diverse, there are a lot of different cultures who are represented at the Nix as well. My Mum is Hungarian, which inspired me to take up a language course through Wellington High School. You don’t see it on the surface, but there is a whole Hungarian community in Wellington.
“Especially if you need help for anything in Wellington... there is always someone willing to help.”
Aside from playing football, what other things do you do in the role of Professional Footballer? We get to put a smile on kids faces. At schools around Wellington, and at the children’s hospital. It sometimes doesn’t feel like you are doing much but giving a Phoenix scarf and playing with the kids means so much. You can provide a lot of joy with small gestures. It also makes you realise how healthy you are, even if you’re not able to play.
What is a problem you are trying to tackle* at the moment? It is incredibly expensive to play football. For a junior kid to play at a good level it costs. Football ends up feeling like a rich kid sport which, makes it harder for underprivileged kids to get into the sport. I want to make football more accessible for these kids.
“It sometimes doesn’t feel like you are doing much but giving a Phoenix scarf and playing with the kids means so much.”
What do you want to see more of in Wellington? More fans at our games. More affordable housing so people have an opportunity to buy.
What do you want to see less of? Less homelessness, and less rugby (just joking).
What is your impossible dream for Wellington? Personally, I would love the whole community behind the Phoenix and Hurricanes - sold out stadiums. From a community standpoint, I want everyone to have an equal opportunity.
What are you going to do to make the impossible dream happen? What are you going to change? It starts with me. The best thing I can do is to represent Wellington in the right way. It is a great place to live. On the football field - I always try my best, I play with pride for my city and I stay out of trouble.Then I carry that into other areas of my life.