Six Ole play­ers get schol­ar­ships

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

Photo: FAIRFAX NZ

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.

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