Six Ole players get scholarships
Ole Football Academy is on a roll with more staff, a new turf and a 100 per cent placement record in the past 12 months for its graduates.
The academy had six students in their final year in 2012 and all of them have been signed to play football at US universities. Michael Hagarty, Nick Edginton, Corey Mills, Caleb Hilbron, James Wypych (all Wellington) and Auckland’s Oliver Wright have football scholarships at schools including Marshall University in West Virginia and the University of New Mexico.
Four more 16- to- 18- year olds – who attend Ole to train to be fulltime footballers while completing their schooling – will go to the US later this year.
‘‘We’re now a premier academy in New Zealand, no one is doing what we’re doing,’’ says the academy’s executive director Nate Winkel.
‘‘ We have teachers, chefs, sports nutritionists and football coaches on our staff and we’re hitting our goals. We have great contacts at Ole, the US coaches know what we’re doing here, and these kids are getting options.’’
In the coming months a new artificial turf will be completed next to the Ole building in the old Porirua Hospital grounds. It will be a huge drawcard for the academy, Winkel says, and he wants it to become an asset for the city as well.
They have a new coach on board – former pro and Waikato FC coach Declan Edge – who will bring experience, training and technical expertise to bear on the next Ole intake, Winkel says. Edge had a huge hand in bringing Tyler Boyd, now with Wellington Phoenix, on as a player.
A number of Ole students will play football in Wellington’s top leagues, and although bridges are being repaired with Porirua club Western Suburbs, don’t expect to see Wests’ first team filled with Ole lads, Winkel says.
‘‘We definitely need these guys to be playing, but it’s about finding the best fit for both them and the club they go to. We have interest from Wests, Olympic, Wellington Utd, Island Bay, it’s great.’’
Winkel himself will coach the Wests’ under-15 side this season. Programmes in local schools will also continue.
There are also moves afoot to establish a relationship with Dutch giants Ajax, who have a renowned youth system. Their training methods will become available to Ole online and this would only help with player development.
Winkel hopes a coaching exchange can be set up with Ajax eventually.
US-bound: Caleb Hilbron, seen here in his Wellington College days, will attend the University of New Mexico on a football scholarship after graduating from Ole Football Academy.