Growing up in Myanmar, Biak Tha Thang Vanuk longed to play football.
However, with his village scarce of resources and organised sports leagues, Vanuk was resigned to living out his football dreams through YouTube videos of Cristiano Ronaldo.
So, when his family relocated to Nelson in 2010, Vanuk was ecstatic to join local football club, Metro.
“I remember going to my first training at Victory Square and seeing all the balls and cones, I thought ‘this is like what I see on TV,’ I was pretty excited.”
With no training or proper understanding of the rules, Vanuk says he was a liability for his first side.
Not discouraged, Vanuk honed his skills by playing with fellow Chin community members after church at Guppy Park.
It was here he got a taste for scoring goals and where he made the switch from defence to attack.
The switch proved profitable as Vanuk has gone on to establish himself as one of the top strikers in Nelson club football.
Vanuk has netted 14 goals for FC Nelson this season with his side hot on the heels of competition leaders Rangers.
“I love to score goals, a team win is important, but you can only win if you score goals.”
Vanuk has already amassed numerous highlights in his short career, including a national title with Nelson College as a year 11, playing 20 minutes off the bench in the 2-1 win over Sacred Heart on the final.
Last season, Vanuk made the call to play for division two side Richmond Hornbills, leading them to a title while top scoring the league with 27 goals.
Next in his sights though is a division one title and his FC Nelson side face Rangers this weekend with a loss all but handing the title to the Blenheim based side.
“We have to win.”