Edge un­veils new brand of foot­ball at Wests

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

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.

Photo: KRIS DANDO

Jamie O’Con­nor, left, and De­clan Edge will be key com­po­nents in West­ern Sub­urbs’ push for Cen­tral League honours this sea­son.

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