An Asia Pacific football academy linked to FA Cup finalists Everton will kick off in Christchurch in February.
At least three New Zealand players will be offered free scholarships for New Zealand's first comprehensive player development programme with a direct pathway to an English premier league (EPL) club.
The full-time residential academy is the brainchild of former New Zealand Football (NZF) high performance manager Rob Sherman, a former national player development manager for the Welsh Football Association.
Sherman, a former professional player for Cardiff City and Swansea in his native Wales, said the academy will recruit players from New Zealand, Oceania, Australia and later Asia. Everton who play Chelsea in Sunday's FA Cup final will not own the Asia Pacific Football Academy (APFA). But the Merseyside club will supply technical support, including visiting coaches, and the academy squad will visit Everton each year.
That meant an APFA graduate signed by Everton would arrive at Goodison Park already schooled "the Everton way", Sherman said. "We'll be a microcosm of how Everton operates. So, if a boy goes to the club, it won't be new surroundings."
Everton would have "first right of refusal" for APFA players.
The aim of the academy was to develop players for "a career in professional football" with Everton, or other overseas and A-League clubs, and/or for future academic study.
Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said the Christchurch academy was "a great opportunity for aspiring players in the region".
"We, at Everton, believe that an academy is not just a building, it is a philosophy. Everton and APFA share the same philosophy in terms of striving for excellence and putting the needs of the players first."
APFA had "private equity backing for the first three to five years" and would be based in the Christchurch region, Sherman said. He and his business partners are still negotiating with potential venue providers and had talked with Canterbury secondary schools. Academy players would be aged 14 to 18.
"In our first years, we'll look at 15 to 16-year-olds and recruit around 12 players. Those 12 will attend completely free, on scholarships."
While APFA had a direct link to Everton, it would also look to "develop pathways" to the United States collegiate system, and "within New Zealand".
The education aspect was vital, Sherman said.
"It's all very well living the dream, but if it ends prematurely, there has to be something else."
The "player-centred" programme will "fit the academic year" with the first intake in February with players attending local schools. Sherman said he would arrange games for the academy squad, "including tours to the UK and Europe".
While the APFA recruits would play almost exclusively for the academy, they could remain registered with their clubs and would be free to play international and representative football.
Sherman said "the [English] premier league (EPL) is the premier league in the world, at the moment.
"In our discussions with various clubs, Everton really jumped out. They're very similar to us, philosophically, and have a tremendous pedigree in developing young players."
Sherman also knew Everton's international programmes manager.
He said EPL clubs recognised that talent "can come from anywhere in the world". Only 30 per cent of EPL players are British-born.
Sherman said Everton's goal-scoring Australian midfielder Tim Cahill and Blackburn Rovers' All Whites captain Ryan Nelsen had proved that Australasian players could foot it in the EPL.
After his playing career wound down, Sherman became a regional coach with the Welsh FA then moved into a player development role and became technical programmes manager. Sherman came to New Zealand in April 2007 as NZF high performance manager but left last year.
He chose to stay in New Zealand to develop the academy because "my real passion was player development".
Sherman said the academy would have four full-time staff.
New Zealand Academy Announced
Posted 26 May 2009 - 17:39
Posted 27 May 2009 - 09:26
Posted 27 May 2009 - 13:51
Posted 27 May 2009 - 15:17
exactly what we need in new zealand. Theres some promising youth coming through atm which is good cuz the standard of players bar ryan nelson in the national team is very poor. Look out for chris wood in the confederations cup 17 year old striker whos at west brom and made a few sub apearances for them this year. People already comparing him to wynton rufer.
He's just signed a new deal at WBA hasn't he?
Posted 27 May 2009 - 15:19
He's just signed a new deal at WBA hasn't he?
2 year deal today.
Posted 27 May 2009 - 19:19
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