Top striker back from injury

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At the beginning of the season, the Gore Wanderers premier football side’s wish list would have included a
request for more goals.
‘ I like my team, and I like all the fans who come down every week. The number on the sidelines seems to be more each
week. ‘ That wish has been
granted, with the club
having the premier
division’s third-best goal difference and its 26 goals blowing last season’s goal tally out of the water.
Wanderers players Miguel Ortiz, with 10 goals, and Fransiscus ‘‘Frodo’’ De Jong (7) have between them this season already scored two more than the club’s total last season of
15.
Ortiz has been in spectacular form for the side, and is the competition’s top-equal goal scorer alongside Old Boys’ Atain Halley and Thistle’s Luis Goncalves Paiva.
It is Ortiz’s third year with the club.
However, due to injury going into this season, Ortiz has played only six games.
Ortiz (31) grew up in Chile in a small town just outside the capital, Santiago, called Curacavi.
He grew up playing football.
‘‘Football in Chile is what rugby is to New Zealand.’’
For six months he trained with the professional Cobreloa football club, one of Chile’s most competitive clubs.
‘‘After six months and not making enough money, I had to make the decision between whether I would continue to try play professional football or whether I would study,’’ Ortiz said.
He chose to train to be a farm manager while also playing football at a lesser level.
He worked as a farm manager in Chile until he and wife Maka Morales and their daughter Ignacia Ortiz-Morales decided to move to New Zealand.
Ortiz arrived in New Zealand in 2012, studying again in Christchurch to be a farm manager while he also played for the small Temuka United Football Club.
‘‘I scored 33 goals in 17 games with the club there and got most valuable player for Canterbury in my year there,’’ he said.
In 2013 the family moved to Oamaru, where he played for Meadowbank and again won the golden boot after 11 games.
In 2014 he finally arrived in Gore, where he scored seven goals in six games for the club.
It was a good start for the striker. However, an ACL injury put him out of the game for more than nine months.
He was playing for Gore against Queens Park in Invercargill when he twisted his knee and had to go immediately to hospital, where they decided he would need surgery.
The injury meant he did not manage to get on the pitch in the 2015 season.
While the injury was unfortunate, it allowed him to settle into his new role as a farm manager of 1200 cows near Wyndham.
His daughter started at St Mary’s School in Gore and now at 12 years old attends St Peter’s College, where he said she had basically become a New Zealander.
‘‘She is well liked in her classes because she can speak two languages but she now sounds like a Kiwi,’’ he said.
He said his daughter was also sporty and had picked up netball, which is unheard of in Chile.
Ortiz is still learning the language himself. He said it had been easier for his daughter than for him.
Morales helped him with translations.
When it came to returning from injury at the start of the season, Ortiz was happy but apprehensive.
‘‘I was back at training at the start of the season a little bit overweight and unfit from the injury. While the injury was better, I had to get back confidence that it was OK,’’ he said.
Since then, Ortiz has begun to strike golden form, demonstrated by his season goal tally.
Last weekend he picked up two goals in the Wanderers’ impressive win against last season’s winner Queenstown.
Ortiz aims to add another club’s golden boot to his name and potentially dethrone Halley, who was last season’s league top scorer.
With his appetite for scoring goals, the Wanderers will be hoping to keep Ortiz at the club.
‘‘I like my team, and I like all the fans who come down every week. The number on the sidelines seems to be more each week.’’