Paul Ifill is all smiles after scoring for Wairarapa United against Waterside-Karori in July. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa United is losing one of the club’s mainstays, with Paul Ifill leaving to take on a demanding role at Christchurch United.
Christchurch United announced on their website on Thursday that the Wellington Phoenix legend will replace former All White Danny Halligan as coach of the men’s first team and will head the club’s new women’s football academy.
Ifill agreed to take on the first team coaching role after visiting United’s state-of-the-art Christchurch Football Centre to discuss a new women’s academy.
”When you see these facilities and you hear [United president] Slava Meyn’s passion and vision, it is hard not to be impressed,” Ifill told the website.
“I think Christchurch United is the sleeping giant of New Zealand football.
“I wasn’t looking for a head coaching role, but after being assistant at Tasman and Hawke’s Bay and head coach at Wairarapa in the Central League, this opportunity is the perfect next step in my coaching career,” the former Barbados international said.
”It is a huge advantage to take over a team that had been moulded by such an experienced coach like Danny, at a club with the vision and resources to think big, so I am really excited by the opportunity.
“The vision of Christchurch United is to create the best women’s academy in the country, starting off with the youngest age-groups and slowly growing, just like United did with their men’s academy,” Ifill said.
”Canterbury teams have dominated women’s football in this country, so there is huge potential in this region and we want to invest the resources to develop even more future Football Ferns.”
Ifill came to New Zealand after notching up 341 matches in the English league, including for Milwall, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace.
After retiring from the Phoenix in 2015, Ifill joined Wairarapa United as player-coach for the Central League team. He went on to play for the team for seven years.
Ifill also established the Paul Ifill Football Academy at Rathkeale, producing several Central League players, most notably Callan Elliot, who now plays professionally for the Phoenix.
In recent years, Ifill was heavily involved in the women’s game coaching United’s W-League team for the past four seasons and achieved two runner-up finishes. In 2020, Ifill was appointed the Samoan women’s international coach.
“We are incredibly excited and proud Paul Ifill has agreed to join us as our new first team coach and we are confident his top-flight experience will help Christchurch United take another step towards building club’s high performance culture and future success,” Meyn said.