Otumoetai Football Academy setting new standards

By Peter White

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BRIGHT FUTURE: Otumoetai Academy Talent girls in action. PHOTO/SUPPLIED 140816sp17BOP
BRIGHT FUTURE: Otumoetai Academy Talent girls in action. PHOTO/SUPPLIED 140816sp17BOP

Otumoetai Football Club has been providing football for generations of players at Matua's scenic Fergusson Park since 1964 from First Kicks kids aged five through to the less boisterous social grades.

Now the next stage in the club's development is underway with the introduction of a club academy.

It is designed primarily to focus on talent identification and development, holiday football courses, weekly training sessions, academy development and federation teams and coach development.

The aim of the OFCA (Otumoetai Football Club Academy) is to ensure the development of the most talented young players within the club.

"It was clear that the next step was to launch OFCA so that we could create more footballing opportunities for our community and better cater for the large pool of talent that we have," club president Paul Thomas said.

"We are really excited that at the moment we can offer certain athletes that qualify access to the (University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance), specialised training where we look at them as individuals to improve their game with a strength and fitness coach, physios, sports psychologist and nutritionist to name a few of the things in our programme.

"And this is the impressive part at the moment that those who are on our talent programme are in it for free. The only thing we are asking of our players that without pressure they give back to the OFCA community, after all it was the community that made them great players in the first place."

Cliff Harris, head coach Otumoetai Football Club Academy, is excited to be part of this positive, new initiative.

"What we are doing is building scaffolding around all these talented players to make sure everything is set in place for them to be the best that they can be, which is what clubs don't tend to do.

"They just play every week, the federation looks after them a bit more and New Zealand Football."

Harris says the academy should enhance long-term relationships between the players and the Otumoetai club for years to come.

"Oh 100 per cent it will help cement them staying in the club quite a bit longer.

"We are offering quite a bit and looking at taking them on overseas trips. For the ones who are performing pretty well we should be able to fund that to places like Manchester United and Manchester City.

"They may not necessarily get looked at but they will get that experience of high level football."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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