Mount chosen as site for football academy

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Jack Bates
Jack Bates has already toured Australia, Spain and England with the RHFA.

By Peter White

NEW ZEALAND’S best-known football brand will soon establish a talent centre based at ASB Baypark Stadium.
The Ricki Herbert Football Academy has centres in Auckland, Wellington and Kapiti and will open its fourth at Mount Maunganui on October 13.

Director Kale Herbert says it will be based on the outside pitch at the stadium and will also utilise the indoor training facility and gym.

“Myself and Ricki have come up to Tauranga a lot and one of the main reasons we went for (Baypark) was having that neutral venue not attached to a club,” Herbert said. “It is a good venue and I think it is the right place to hold a talent development centre for young footballers.”

“We will be working through the whole year and during the winter time, when the weather starts to turn a little bit, we will look to use the indoor facilities.”

Herbert says they decided now was the right time to launch an academy here.

“With the talent we have had over the holiday programmes, we wanted to get them into work for longer periods of time, week in, week out, rather than every second school holiday.”

Herbert says players such as Jack Bates from Tauranga Boys’ College, who has toured with Ricki Herbert Academy’s teams to Australia, Barcelona and England, has come through the holiday programmes.

“We get players coming through who show that little bit of class at a young age, and Jack was certainly one of them. He is a very talented footballer and there are a number of them in the Tauranga region.”

Boys and girls aged 5-17 will be eligible to train at the new centre, with players split between a talent group and a development group.

“Both of them will be trained exactly the same way, in two 75 minute sessions a week after school, with the same exercises and drills,” Herbert said. “There will be a chance for players to move from the development group into the talent group. But we want to target both groups, as some players develop at an older age, so we want to give them the best opportunity to develop from within the academy.”

Tauranga-based Shaun O’Brien will be the initial head coach at the Mount Maunganui academy, looking after the day-to-day operation. Ricki Herbert will work with the players twice a term, focusing on off-the-pitch aspects such as nutrition and preparing for a training session.

• For details, email Jess Lowe, course project co-ordinator, Ricki Herbert Football Academy: rhfainformation@gmail.com.

Published by the Bay of Plenty Times, September 22, 2014.