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NZ Football Looks To The Future

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
NZ Football Looks To The Future

Wellington, Dec 2 - New Zealand Football (NZF) has launched a trio of national talent centres to speed up the progress of its soccer teams on the world stage.

The pilot introduction of three national talent centres in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch will be the first step in that process, identifying and nurturing talented young players from as early as 12 years-old in preparation for age-group World Cups at under-17 and under-20 level.

In the last two years, the collective progress of New Zealand teams has been rapid, with 13 points collected from six age group and senior events in 2008 and 2009.

Prior to that, New Zealand teams had picked up just one point in the four tournaments immediately following Australia's departure from Oceania for the Asian Football Confederation in January 2006.

Despite breakthrough performances culminating in the All Whites' dramatic qualification to the finals of the World Cup in South Africa, NZF is aiming to spin the wheels of progress even faster, director of football development John Herdman said.

"We're looking at talent younger and we're looking wider -- to track, monitor, train and inspire young players on to success at under-17 World Cup and beyond."

Herdman said although New Zealand teams punched above their weight in the global game, size couldn't be ignored when planning for even better results.

"The New Zealand situation is characterised by a comparatively small talent pool so a key to future success will be casting the net wider than has been done previously and to catch more potential stars.

"We'll also keep the door open for those that initially missed out, allowing them to force their way in to a national centre through federation programmes.

"People talk about more milk making more cream but equally more quality milk makes more quality cream."

For the first intake in January, a network of national and federation scouts have identified players at the Perry Foundation national age-grade tournament. Numbers will be boosted by local talent selected by federation coaching staff.

Future intakes will be drawn from ongoing federation development programmes with investment and support the national body, and while NZF will support, in principle, the continuance of a national tournament it will be not used for identifying players.

Around 300 players aged between 12 and 16 will get their first taste of the level of preparation required to represent New Zealand and reach under-17 squads and be exposed to internationally focused tactical and technical instruction with national and federation coaches.

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