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.

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