Four-day camp fillip for Wanaka

Ole Football Academy Technical Director Ben Sippola coaches a group of youngsters at the Wanaka...
Ole Football Academy Technical Director Ben Sippola coaches a group of youngsters at the Wanaka Football Club on Monday during the academy’s four-day camp. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
South Island youngsters are experiencing one of New Zealand’s top football academies this week.

The Ole Academy is running a four-day camp in Wanaka for 31 children aged between 10 and 13.

It has attracted players from Central Otago, Dunedin, Timaru and Christchurch.

The camp was being run by Ole Football Academy Technical Director, Ben Sippola and CEO Blake Jones, alongside other supporting coaches.

Ole is a high-level development academy based in Wellington and has names such as Tyler Boyd and Ryan Thomas among its alumni.

Wanaka Football Club president Robert Norman said it was exciting to host the camp.

The academy had come down to look at the set up a year ago, having a connection through former All White Blair Scoullar, who is now a Wanaka club member.

The camp was for players of a certain standard and included both practical and theory sessions.

"It’s fantastic for Wanaka AFC," Norman said.

"The club has got a really good foundation.

"We’re big believers in developing that talent and making sure kids have a really fun time when they’re playing football.

"This is just part of that.

"We’ve been doing a lot of work and this just helps it even further that we’ve got an academy like Ole that want to come to Wanaka to keep helping develop football in Central Otago and the South Island."

The Wanaka senior and junior clubs had been separate until two years ago, when they combined to align its pathway.

Over those past two years the club has entered the Southern Premier League and performed well last year, to finish fourth.

Development for that team was a strong focus long-term and having an academy like Ole holding a camp was a boost for that.

Norman said the New Zealand Football competition revamp — shifting the national league competition back to clubs — was fantastic.

Wanaka had a long-term goal of playing in the South Island league, but might not straight away as it would want to be ready to do so, particularly in a financial sense.

He added the club was not looking at merging, as many others have done around the country — including a proposed relationship between Dunedin Technical and Caversham.

He said it made sense for some clubs, but the logistics of being in Central Otago made it difficult as the nearest club was an hour away.

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