Ole Football Academy still on the up
Ole Football Academy is building an impressive track record and 2017 looks busier than ever.
After 20 years in business, the Porirua-based football school has built a reputation of sending teens off to play at United States universities, European clubs and in New Zealand’s national league.
Ole chief executive Ben Sippola said there was nothing more gratifying than seeing young players reach their potential.
‘‘That’s why we do it and we’re doing it pretty well.
’’We have great staff and the players that come here realise early on they’ll get the right football tutelage, but they have to work.’’
Among the recent intake of footballers training on Ole’s artificial turf in the old Porirua Hospital grounds - or have only recently left - are 10 that have been invited into national age group training squads.
Josh Rogerson, Elijah Just, Callum McCowatt, Xavier Green, Nando Pijnaker, Owen ParkerPrice, Joash Sutherland, Tinashe Marowa, Jonty Bilderbeck and Noah Billingsley will attend camps in order to push their claim for New Zealand colours.
Ole grads Jesse Edge and Tyler Lissette, meanwhile, have signed professional contracts to play in Holland’s and Sweden’s secondtier leagues.
Closer ties with New Zealand Football - which had not been present in previous years - continued to flourish, with Sippola now coaching the Team Wellington youth side in the National Youth League.
It is another avenue for Ole players to show off their talent.
‘‘There has been a perception that ours and New Zealand Football’s relationship has been on shaky ground in the past, but we’re moving on from that,’’ Sippola said.
‘‘The youth league is strong and having 15 out of the 30 players for Team Wellington coming from Ole was huge.’’
Ole’s staff will hit 12 this year to keep up with the workload.
Representatives from US universities Xavier, Butler and Dartmouth visited last week, while Sippola said contact was regular with partners Western Suburbs about the approaching Central League season and Wests’ bid for a spot in the summer national league.
Although Sippola, and fellow coach Declan Edge, helped Vanuatu qualify for the upcoming Under-20 World Cup, Sippola said the decision was made to focus on Ole’s ‘‘core business’’ this year and would not be assisting the island nation further.
Back row, from left, Xavier Green, Nando Pijnaker and Owen Parker-Price, and front row, from left, Josh Rogerson and Elijah Just have made NZ age group training camps.