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Greytown grows link with Phoenix

Callan Elliot in his Wairarapa United playing days, before he joined the Phoenix Academy. PHOTO/FILE

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa’s promising young footballers will soon have a pathway to a potential professional career through a new link between the Greytown Junior Football Club and the Wellington Phoenix Academy.

The establishment of a Pre-Academy Centre in Wairarapa comes after a successful joint venture in the April school holidays when the Phoenix ran a two-day school holiday programme with the Greytown JFC.

The large number of registrations for the programme highlighted Greytown people’s enthusiasm for football.

Greytown JFC head coach Gary Hewson said the Pre-Academy Centre would be an excellent chance to evolve the already established Greytown Football Skill Centre.

“In the past two years, we’ve had more children wanting to take part in the skill centres, but haven’t had enough coaches available,” Hewson said.

“The relationship with the Phoenix takes us to the next step and allows us to grow capacity.

“There’s a real nice balance of growing the community interest in football, but for those children who really want a shot and want to take it seriously, there’s a pathway into the Phoenix Academy.

“This partnership is a wonderful chance for our local children to have fun learning great football skills in a supportive, well-informed environment.

“This is not just about Greytown – it’s about growing and improving football for the whole region and making it better and more accessible for more people.”

The programme would also offer coach education support to the region to help the region’s grassroots coaches.

Wellington Phoenix Academy director Paul Temple is enthusiastic about tapping into Wairarapa’s talent pool, saying the Pre-Academy Centres are a great way for the Phoenix to develop skills in the vital nine-to-12 age group.

“Wairarapa is a region that has great growth potential, and we are really looking forward to starting a partnership with Greytown JFC and the Paul Ifill Football Academy,” Temple said.

“This makes a lot of sense to us, and our goal is to help the development of young players in the region, support Paul in the youth space and provide opportunities for the region’s best players into the Phoenix Academy.”

Ifill’s academy, based at Rathkeale College, has produced several players who have achieved at a higher level – most notably Callan Elliot, who joined the Phoenix Academy, and then starred for the club’s A-League side. The NZ Under-20 international is now plying his trade for Greek Super League 2 club Xanthi.

The Wellington Phoenix Pre-Academy Greytown Centre will run from August 2 to September 27, excluding holidays, at Soldiers Memorial Park, Greytown.

Sessions will be held Mondays, with the ninth and 10th grades from 3.30pm-4.30pm, and the 11th and 12th grades from 4,40pm-5.40pm.

Registrations open at the end of this week on the Greytown JFC Facebook page and website.

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