- Oskar van Hattum is the fourth member of his family to represent New Zealand
- Uncle played against Brazil at the 1982 FIFA World Cup
- New Zealand will face hosts Brazil at upcoming U-17 World Cup
New Zealand has had more than its fair share of famous multi-generational football families. The Rufers headline a list that includes the names Armstrong, De Jong and Fallon, all of whom boast more than one international representative in the family. But perhaps no family unit can lay claim to broader achievement than the Van Hattums.
And it is a story that has plenty more chapters left to be written. Seventeen-year-old Oskar van Hattum is set to don New Zealand's colours at the fast-looming FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil. Oskar, who featured prominently in last year’s OFC qualifiers is, quite incredibly, the fourth Van Hattum to represent New Zealand.
Most famously, uncle Frank was a member of New Zealand’s groundbreaking side that defied all expectations to qualify for the 1982 FIFA World Cup™. If that is not enough, aunties Grazia and Marie-Jose both played for New Zealand. Oskar’s dad Terry featured in New Zealand’s top club competition, as did cousin Nick.
The football lineage can be traced back all the way back to Oskar’s grandfather Frits van Hattum, who migrated to New Zealand from the Netherlands in the early 1950s. The Dutchman, undoubtedly shocked by the overwhelming prevalence of rugby posts on most local fields, helped introduce football into local schools in Taranaki. His coaching prowess even helped kick-start the careers of several well-known goalkeepers, including his own children.
Unsurprisingly, football has been a constant in Oskar’s life as long as he can remember. “I was playing with a ball since I could barely walk, so I started pretty young,” he told FIFA.com.
"I can’t remember a time when football was not part of the discussion at home, or when a ball was not around the house. [Frank playing at the World Cup] showed that going far in the game is possible, so it is a big inspiration.”
A favourite anecdote in the family home is Zico scoring one of the best goals of his career past Frank with a storied and effortless bicycle kick at Spain 1982. The match against Brazil’s fabled all-star attacking side – Falcao, Eder, Socrates, Zico, et al – remains a touchstone in New Zealand’s football history.
Now the youngest footballing Van Hattum is set for his own Brazilian experience, this time in one of the game’s spiritual homes, with New Zealand grouped against Angola, Canada and the hosts.
“Playing against Brazil in Brazil is definitely one of my life goals,” said the creative attacker. “When you are a kid, playing and scoring for your country in a World Cup is definitely a dream.”
Van Hattum will head to Brazil not only inspired by the achievements of his family members, but by recent showings from New Zealand’s youth teams. New Zealand have developed a strong record of progressing into the knockout stage at FIFA tournaments, headlined by the Kiwis’ stunning bronze medal win at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018.
“We know it will be tough but we back ourselves to get out of the group,” said Van Hattum, who is one of a dozen players from Wellington Phoenix’s academy chasing selection. “The achievement of the U-17 girls is something we are looking to build off and our attitude is ‘if they can do it, we can do it.' ”
New Zealand's achievements at FIFA youth tournaments
U-17 World Cup: Round of 16 (2009, 2011, 2015)
U-17 Women’s World Cup: Third (2018)
U-20 World Cup: Round of 16 (2015, 2017, 2019)
U-20 Women’s World Cup: Quarter-finals (2014)