Edge unveils new brand of football at Wests
Declan Edge is certainly from the new school of football coaching.
The Ole Football Academy technical director has been overseeing the Western Suburbs’ premier squad as they gear up for the start of the Central League, in which they finished second last season. He likes what he sees. ‘‘It’s a fantastic squad and they are going to play fair, play good football and entertain,’’ he said.
‘‘We have not had to do too much recruiting because of the relationship between Ole and Wests.
‘‘We want people to come to watch a brand of football they like and that has been grown here, in Porirua.’’
About nine players were playing junior Nike Cup football two years ago for Wests and have made the move into Wests’ first and second squads.
Edge said giving more power to the players to decide what to do at training and on game day – they can take control during halftime discussions – was part of letting footballers express themselves more.
Winning trophies might be some clubs’ way of recognising success, but player development was more important at Wests, he said.
‘‘Success, if you want trophies, will follow development. We’re producing footballers and role models in the game.
‘‘Some might think what we’re doing is revolutionary, and it is. We’re being copied now by other clubs and academies.’’
A key addition to the squad is Jamie O’Connor, formerly of Wellington Olympic. Being able to work with Edge ticks many boxes for O’Connor, who lives in Whitby and has children who play in Wests’ junior ranks.
‘‘I’m looking forward to playing, and to keep adding to my coaching experience,’’ O’Connor said.
‘‘Declan’s fantastic and it’s a huge opportunity for me to learn from him.’’
O’Connor expects Wairarapa, Petone and Napier to push hard this year, though the usual suspects of Olympic and Miramar will be tough to knock over.
‘‘ It’s an exciting league and there are no easy games,’’ he said.
Edge has more responsibility this season, with Wests’ head coach from last season, Lloyd O’Keefe, moving to Lower Hutt.
Wests play Lower Hutt in round one, this Friday.
Wests chairman Peter Gillespie said their match against local rivals Tawa, on Easter Monday, would be a great day for the club.
‘‘This match is always big for both clubs when we play for the Don Fenton Memorial Trophy. Tawa always grow another leg when they play us and we usually get a good crowd along.’’
The derby match will kick off at 2.30pm at Endeavour Park.
Jamie O’Connor, left, and Declan Edge will be key components in Western Suburbs’ push for Central League honours this season.