Benny Sip
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The Olé Way Academy - Club Model

At The Olé Way our mission of fundamentally changing football development in New Zealand is clear. The idea of ''change" conjures scary images within New Zealand football circles. However, "change" is simply a way of acknowledging that the current set of environmental conditions around player development can be improved, in the same way that aeroplanes are developed differently today than in the 1980's.

Based on over 20 years of experience working within the New Zealand football landscape, we have developed an academy - club model based specifically around New Zealand player development. 

We see The Olé Way as a way forward for the country's football development model. Having said that, we understand that football development - development of any kind - is a multifaceted pursuit full of variables and that a one size fits all approach may not be applicable to all parties. Nevertheless, The Olé Way is one way forward for helping the New Zealand player and trainer reach his or her fullest potential, which is why we are here.

The Olé Way Academy - Club Model has proven to be a sustainable, collaborative and practical way of bringing the New Zealand football academy and club together under one mission, vision and philosophy.

As always our doors are open 24 / 7 if you would like to come see for yourself. 

The Olé Way Academy - Club Model

Academy - Club Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU): The MOU is a non-binding agreement outlining each parties, academy and club, roles and responsibilities. The MOU also functions as a firm reference point as to why the relationship exists. In this case, to promote a pathway for New Zealand player development from 1st kick to 1st Team. For instance, it does not say "do our best to win the league each year with amateur players from anywhere," but it could, if agreed upon by both parties in the collaboratively written MOU.

Sustainable Financial Approach: For any football enterprise, academy, amateur club or professional team to maintain a certain level of productivity a sustainable financial approach is critical. The Olé Way does this through a combination of means: a pay - to - play academy model, minimal or no 1st team player payments and investment of most valuable time, resources and coaches into player development ages 8 - 18 years, not amateur "burnouts." No player payments allows for athletes to maintain amateurism status, a crucial component in keeping all pathways and U.S. Scholarship opportunities open. 

100% New Zealand Players: This is New Zealand, hence why all energies are devoted to developing the New Zealand player for New Zealand's Full - National Team, U23's, U20's and U17's. If a trainer or apprentice player comes into The Olé Way environment from outside of New Zealand, he or she understands his or her role in facilitating New Zealand player development, period. 

Player - Academy - Parent (P.A.P) Model: The P.A.P relationship is potentially the greatest challenge to player development in New Zealand; however, this problem is not unique to Kiwis. Even the most developed football nations are constantly searching for innovative ways of working alongside parents. A real understanding of the Parent - Academy - Player (P.A.P.) relationship and the role that the three parties play in supporting and maximising New Zealand player development is essential. Getting everyone on the same page regarding Kiwi player development is much easier said than done. We've done it, are doing it, improving upon it and are happy to share how. 

“The academy’s job is to bring parents along the educational journey, not to push them aside. When player, academy and parent are on the same page in the developmental process, player growth is maximised and potential increased.” - Olé F.A. Staff

Player Placement / Career Management: If a player commits to The Olé Way, the academy and club continue to facilitate his or her football career, as long as the player is capable of continuing through the Young Olé Academy ranks and remains in the game. This requires a commitment from trainers and key academy / club persons to facilitate the journey of each individual player beyond his or her time at the academy or club. The parties are responsible for working together to ensure appropriate competition structures are in place and remain in tact to provide proper conditions for player development. The player relationship with the academy and club is reciprocal and largely dependent on the player investing his or her energies back into future generations of players, which is actively taking place. LiBTYFi - Leave it Better Than You Found it.

Seamless System Of Play: This seems to be the question that everyone is trying to answer. How does the academy and / or club demonstrate a certain level of connectivity between the youth teams, the first team and the trainers that drive them? How is a seamless playing philosophy agreed upon and integrated throughout the age grades? Is there a proven and practical methodology behind the madness or is it just madness? Does the Technical Director, Director of Football, or professional in charge of driving the football philosophy have his or her fingers on the pulse from grassroots to the top of the pyramid? Does this person have a clear vision and philosophy on the whats, hows and whys of player development? Does this person have a vested interest in the development of the U9's - U14's because this group of players will largely determine the senior 1st team roster in five years time? Does this person have a clear vision of what is possible when the optimal environmental conditions for development are in place for Kiwi footballers? 

Focus On Development: Is the agenda of all parties involved (academy, club, board of directors) clear? Is the project 100% devoted to youth player development, winning at all costs, or maximising player participation? If there is a focus on player development, what does this environment look like? What resources are needed to create the proper environmental conditions for elite development to occur? How long does football development typically take for Kiwi kids? Do all parties agree on potential time frames, short term and long - term? Do all parties involved agree, revisit, and continually evolve the conditions stated in the MOU?

Results: At The Olé Way results - wins and losses - are not key indicators of success. An emphasis on winning is not central to the academy - club philosophy. Do not miss the irony though. The Olé Way Academy - Club Model has achieved more points (180) at the highest level of Men's amateur club football in the Capital Football region over the past five years. These results have been achieved through a shared mission, vision and philosophy on behalf of academy and club. Strong competitive results are a result from commitment to a deliberate developmental plan and the conditions outlined in the collaboratively written MOU. The academy and club have redefined "success" on their own terms.

1 Full - Time "Professional" Environment: One agenda. Player development and player welfare. The aim is simple...

 - For players and trainers to take part in deliberate purposeful practice - play on a consistent basis

- A strong ethos of Constant And Never ending Improvement (CANi) exists among all pupils

- Enjoyment and Life Long Learning (L3) is at the core of everything

- Character development is ever present in the minds of trainers and mentors

- A spirit of connection and cooperation permeates through academy and club culture

Ben Sippola