Hawke's Bay United player Maxime Oliveri asks to be pardoned for his lyrical but infectious French accent during his first match-preview interview in English.

Frankly Oliveri doesn't have to because it doesn't matter what dialect, or for that matter language, you speak, everyone who loves the beautiful game knows it's a great time to be a Frenchman.

That's not just because France became the reigning world champions after winning the Fifa World Cup in Russia in the last southern hemisphere winter.

It's because footballers of the ilk of Oliveri are making the most of the Les Bleus brand while plying their trade abroad.


Born in Aix-en-Provence-en-Provence, the Thirsty Whale-sponsored Bay franchise team midfielder is proving to be an asset everywhere he goes because not only of his prowess as a professional player but also his credentials as a mentor.

Oliveri, who turned 31 on December 2, holds a Uefa B coaching licence and is immersed in the Bay franchise's academy programme in Napier.

"For here I can bring my European experience," says Oliveri before the Brett Angell-coached kick off against first-round slayers Eastern Suburbs from 2pm at Park Island, Napier, tomorrow.

The Danny Hay-coached Lily Whites will be the last test for the resurgent Birhanu Taye-captained hosts before the ISPS Handa Premiership goes into recess for the Christmas holidays before resuming on Sunday, January 6, with a 1pm kick-off against Wellington Phoenix Reserves at Bluewater Stadium again.

Oliveri says turning around the 5-0 drubbing in Auckland on October 20 will be a case of avenging defeat but it's imperative they play as a unit, not individuals.

"I said this to everyone at the gym," he says. "For us to be better we have to be dynamic and sensible."

He echoes the sentiments of Angell in emphasising Bay United have evolved from game one when they were still trying to find a modicum of cohesiveness and sixth sense as players converging from myriad backgrounds to play as one.

"We've worked harder so we're like a tree. We plant it and now we eat the fruit for good juice for give us real force to be better."


The bearded one says Bay United, despite a sluggish start to their campaign, have the ability to make the top four.

The sixth-placed side have slowly but surely, ground their way up from eighth place on the 10-team ladder on the heels of a draw 2-2 draw against Club World Championship qualifiers Team Wellington on November 18 and three victories on the trot.

Third-placed Eastern Suburbs are coming off a scoreless stalemate against lowly Tasman United, who the Bay boys beat 4-2 in Nelson in week 8.

Standing at 1.75m, Oliveri says his background in Europe in more than a decade of playing enables him to help clubs improve their mentality.

"This the reason why, because I'm passionate about that," he says, intending to help the franchise academy team who are languishing at the bottom of the table in their competition.

Soon after acquiring his Uefa coaching, he and partner Marion Gemme, a human resources supervisor, went on their big OE to play and work in Toronto (Club Soccer Longueuil) and Montreal (Les Griffon) for a season each in the third North American division.

"I won the MVP of the final and I scored so it was a good thing for the Quebec state because it was their first time won this kind of cup," he says, after helping Les Griffon clinch the crown in French-speaking province before heading to the Bay.

For the week nine man of the match, who scored the winning freekick in the 3-2 win over Southern United last Sunday here, and Gemme the trip here is to improve their English in a "total immersion" exercise although the couple learned Spanish in French schools.

"Whether here or in Canada, for me it's a general advertisement as a player, a coach and as human."

Eastern Suburbs Dominic Woolridge (left) and Hawkes Bay United midfielder Maxime Oliveri tussle for possession in the opening round in Auckland on October 20. Photo/Photosport
Eastern Suburbs Dominic Woolridge (left) and Hawkes Bay United midfielder Maxime Oliveri tussle for possession in the opening round in Auckland on October 20. Photo/Photosport

With just one season's contract, Oliveri says the goal is to add value to the production line Angell operates at Eskview during training before enjoying the privilege of match days to see parts of the country during the national summer league.

He believes New Zealand offers a gift to find parallels with their country and their passion.

"I really love the history of New Zealand who has wonderful people who have [a link] with Great Britain and have an openness with the rest of the world."

Oliveri says with pockets of political turmoil in France it means he and Gemme try to keep in touch with their respective families although sometimes it can be quite testing.

"It's not really good in France because of political decisions. Many things are very bad so with big distance we have no freedom to do somethings and it's hard for us."

Oliveri caught the football bug at 6 after following in the footsteps of his older brother, Mathieu, now 38, although the latter was a goalkeeper.

"When I was growing older he was my motivation and my [role] model to learn and to play football.

"It was a good thing [Mathieu was a keeper] because every time we played together I tried to score with my brother in the net, whether it was [indoors] or [outdoors]," he says with a laugh of his penchant for goals as an attacking midfielder.

The Bay strikes a chord with the couple and he reckons the region shares similar climatic features with his home province, a city commune in the south of France, about 30km north of Marseille. It is renowned for its wines from the Aix region.

The secret to France's world cup success, he says, is playing the game high up the field but its the academies who try to improve individual players' templates daily.

"Winning the world cup this year is a good thing for the French federation but for me the next generation of under-19 and under-17 national teams will be very, very good.

"For the future, I'm very confident and believe the French formation will be too strong for other countries."

The 2015 French National University representative to South Korea has played up to the second division competition in his country.

For the record, his favourite Les Bleus player is striker Antoine Griezmann but he reckons attacking midfielder Kylian Mbappé will go on to become the world's best footballer soon.

The Hawkes Bay United's defensive wall will have to be up with the play against the attacking prowess of Eastern Suburbs in Napier tomorrow. Photo/Photosport
The Hawkes Bay United's defensive wall will have to be up with the play against the attacking prowess of Eastern Suburbs in Napier tomorrow. Photo/Photosport

Hawke's Bay Utd: 1. Mackenzie Waite (GK), 2. Anders Eriksson, 3. Liam Schofield, 4. Cameron Lindsay, 7. Cory Chettleburgh, 9. Sam Mason-Smith, 10. Sho Goto, 11. Maxime Oliveri, 12. Ben Lack, 14. Birhanu Taye, 17. Jordan Lamb, 21. Bjorn Christensen, 22. Karan Mandair, 23. Jorge Akers, 24. Dilan Nanayakkara, 26. Alexander Britton (RGK).
Coach: Brett Angell.

Eastern Suburbs: 1. Andrew Withers (GK), 3. Kelvin Kalua, 4. Nando Pijnaker, 6. Harrison Edge, 7. Tim Payne, 8. Owen Parker-Price, 9. Callum McCowatt, 10. Andre de Jong, 11. Mohamed Awad, 12. Kingsley Sinclair, 14. Elijah Just, 15. Dalton Wilkins, 16. Dominic Wooldridge, 17. Michael Built, 19. Tinashe Marowa, 21. Justin Biega (RGK).
Coach: Danny Hay.