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Ifill to coach Samoa women

Paul Ifill in his heyday with the Wellington Phoenix in 2013. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

FOOTBALL

CHRIS COGDALE
[email protected]

Wairarapa United’s women’s coach Paul Ifill has a new string to his bow. He will coach the Samoan women’s international team.

The first assignment for the Wellington Phoenix legend and former Barbadian international will be to prepare the team for the first round of World Cup qualifying in 11 months.

The top two teams from that tournament will progress to a further qualifying tournament in New Zealand.

Initially much of Ifill’s work will be done remotely, with covid-19 restricting travel between New Zealand and Samoa.

“I’ve got an assistant coach and staff in Samoa, and we’ll be doing a lot of the preparation over Zoom and Skype,” he said.

“We’re also looking around New Zealand and have an intern Alastair Duff scouting players and contacting clubs to find the eligible players.”

Ifill hopes to run training camps for New Zealand-based Samoan players this year and camps in Samoa once travel restrictions ease.

The Samoan women’s team are ranked 99th in the world, and Ifill sees his appointment as a real opportunity to improve the standard of football in the rugby-mad country.

“If you look at the number of players and the kids coming through the potential to grow the game in Samoa is massive.”

Ifill, who is entering his fourth season as coach of the Wairarapa United side, said he is still very much in his coaching apprenticeship and was keen to make the most of his first appointment with a national team.

“I want to hit the ground running, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead.”

“I’m looking forward to educating myself and my team in our understanding of the Samoan culture and how we can use this to our advantage.”

As for Ifill continuing his playing career with Wairarapa United, the 41-year-old said he still hasn’t made up his mind, but he has been training with the squad and enjoying it.

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