Football: Herbert developing junior academy in Queenstown

Ricki Herbert. NZPA photo. The architect behind the All Whites' success is part of the team setting up a football academy for junior players in Queenstown.

All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is one of the driving forces behind the new 82 Football Academy in Queenstown, which is set to have its first course in a couple of months.

Herbert has teamed up with former Australian professional footballer Richard Johnson, and Queenstown businessman Peter Waters to set up the academy, which will start in Queenstown with a four-day camp for up to 100 youngsters in January.

Herbert could not be reached yesterday but Waters said the academy idea came from when the Wellington Phoenix played the Melbourne Victory in a pre-season match in midwinter in Queenstown.

Waters said they had decided on Queenstown as it was a special part of New Zealand and families could spend time in the region while one of their children trained at the academy.

The academy was targeting players aged between 9 and 12, and Waters said the first course would take place at Jacks Point.

Advertising for the academy started about three weeks ago and the January course was already about 70% full.

Waters said interest had increased since the All Whites' win over Bahrain last Saturday to qualify for the World Cup.

Herbert would be attending all the courses, Waters said, and Herbert had named the academy after the 1982 All Whites, the first New Zealand side to ever attend the World Cup finals.

Waters said a four-day course would cost $395 and include full coaching, physical conditioning, with a playing kit supplied.

The $395 does not include accommodation.

The academy was another part of building a pathway to a professional contract for a player.

"If we can find the talent and give them good coaching then there are plenty of opportunities out there. No longer is it just in New Zealand. You can pick up scholarships in the United States or go to Europe."

Waters was still negotiating with two companies to decide where the academy would be finally sited but a field at Jacks Point, near the golf club pavilion, would be used for the academy in January.

Waters said they had plans to start running courses every school holidays and also to run clinics, though not on the same scale, in Wellington.

It was hoped to offer 12 scholarships a year to players who could not afford to attend the courses, and to eventually have an academy team which would travel overseas to tournaments every year.

Former All White great Wynton Rufer had a similar academy running in Auckland, he said.

Other coaches would be named shortly.

Johnson, the other man behind the academy, was moving to Queenstown from Wellington soon.

Johnson (35) was born in New South Wales, and played professional football in England for Watford and Queens Park Rangers, before he returned to Australia to finish his playing career in the A League.