Young footballers in Kāpiti aiming for the top have received a huge boost thanks to the efforts of Waikanae AFC who are the latest club announced to be operating a New Zealand Federation Talent Development Programme (TDP).
After successfully presenting an application to Capital Football, the club will operate the development programme on a provisional basis until it passes further assessment of its programme during the season.
The programme is designed for players 13-17 years of age wanting to compete in Capital Football's highest league against other TDP accredited clubs throughout the Wellington region.
This year Waikanae AFC will run the programme with up to three specialised training sessions a week for players born 2006-2009 with 18 selected to make up each U13 and U15 squad with an additional U17 squad in the works for 2022.
"This is great news for all young players in Kāpiti and something we are really proud of," club president Charlie Sturman said.
"At Waikanae we want to give every player an opportunity to play at whatever level they can from social to the highest level.
"This programme gives players who are highly skilled an opportunity to play at the top level."
Normally fierce rivals on the field, Charlie has worked with other clubs in the district to allow players from all clubs to be part of the programme.
"We have worked with other clubs in the district (Ōtaki, Pukerua Bay Soccer Club, Kāpiti Coast United and Paekākāriki) to sign a memorandum of understanding to allow their players to trial and be part of this great programme.
"This will ensure all talented players on the coast have the same opportunity to play at the highest level, regardless of who they play for.
"It's good to have rivalry but it's great to get over that and come together for our players.
"If your kid is talented enough we will find a way to get them involved, regardless of club and cost.
"We want everyone to have the opportunity to play in this, if cost is an issue let us know and we will make it work."
The programme will run for a minimum of 24 weeks which will include an approved curriculum and football philosophy created by technical director Magno Vieira, delivered by Magno, Adam Price, Bernardo Neil, Chris Story and goalkeeper coach Tobias Cerhak.
The club as also brought in nutritionist Bridget Hurd and Kim Tasker as a yoga and wellness facilitator to meet the accreditation required to provide the TDP programme.
"Our vision for the TDP is to provide top quality coaching, with a focus on investing in the amazing talent we have within the club and district.
"If you had wanted to be part of this programme, training and playing at that top level, you would have had to head into Wellington and play for one of the clubs there to be part of the programme.
"We're proud to offer this in Kāpiti."
The programme is part of the club's five year plan to develop a pathway for senior players.
Starting with U13 and U15 grades, the club will develop programmes for U17 and upwards as the players progress, eventually creating a strong pathway for players to feed into first teams around the district.
"We are delighted to see an additional club join those already providing quality programmes for their youth players," federation development manager Steeve Sharpe said.
"It's great to see clubs across the Capital Football region step forward and show their willingness to deliver opportunities for their players.
"We'd like to recognise the efforts of Waikanae AFC in bringing this together in particular club president, Charlie Sturman who has led the way.
"We look forward to working with Waikanae AFC and the other clubs delivering NZF Talent Development Programmes this year."
Waikanae AFC joins Island Bay United, Lower Hutt City AFC, Miramar Rangers, North Wellington/Onslow Junior, Petone, Stop Out Sports Club, Upper Hutt City, Waterside Karori, Wellington United and, Western Suburbs in delivering a NZF Talent Development Programme.