Established in 1997 by Wellington entrepreneur, philanthropist and former New Zealand National Team Manager (1999-2003) Dave Wilson, Olé Football Academy was initially set-up at the grassroots level to provide footballing opportunities for Porirua based children that lived and breathed sport.
In 2005, Olé became the first academy of its kind in New Zealand to implement a full-time professional coaching staff and training programme with the sole intent of developing the New Zealand domestic footballer. In 2012, the academy established a full-time residential programme to attract top footballing talents from around New Zealand. In 2013, FieldTurf® installed a state of the art playing surface at the football academy. The 110 x 70m artificial turf field is the same exact surface that has been installed at FC Barcelona and AFC Ajax and allows a world – class surface for year-round training and 24-7 programmes.
The academy is modeled on a holistic approach (Scholar – Human – Footballer) to player and personal development with a focus on producing footballers capable of playing at professional and amateur (U.S. Universities) levels abroad. In recent years, the academy has established itself as one of Oceania’s (OFC) premier centres for youth player development.
Since the 2010 World Cup, 13 different Olé Football Academy players have represented New Zealand International teams at various age level competitions from the U-17’s to the full national team “All Whites.” Currently, over 35 players represent the academy at U.S. Universities and professional clubs around the world. Former notable players dating back to the academy’s inception include: Simon Elliot (Fulham FC, English Premier League), Mike Wilson (San Jose Earthquakes, Major League Soccer), Craig Henderson (Stabaek IF, Norwegian Tippeligan), Dan Keat (Los Angeles Galaxy, Major League Soccer), Jake Gleeson (Portland Timbers, Major League Soccer), Ryan Thomas (PEC Zwolle, Dutch Eredevisie), Harry Edge (Amatuks, SA Super League), Jesse Edge (Vicenza Calcio, Serie B), Cory Brown (NZ U-20) and Noah Billingsley (NZ U-20). Academy players have gone on to attend some of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions, including Stanford University, Dartmouth College, Bucknell University and Northwestern University.
In recent times, Olé has developed a successful style based around attractive, entertaining, possession football. At Olé’s core is a passion for youth development and empowering young people to pursue their greatest ambitions both on and off the pitch. The Olé teaching philosophy embraces the importance of having a Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) and a life-long attitude of Constant And Never-ending Improvement (CANI). All players and trainers operate under the mantra “I Am Because We Are” (Ubuntu) where it is recognised that individual success is best achieved within the framework of a team working together. The academy currently oversees the football development of approximately 250 players from the grassroots level to the academy’s top tier, Young Olé.
Olé Football Academy operates as a non-for-profit charitable trust located on the Keneperu Hospital Grounds in the city of Porirua, 25 minutes outside of New Zealand’s Capital, Wellington City.
Olé Football Academy and Western Suburbs are at the forefront of player development in New Zealand and their successes are being recognised in the world football community. The way in which the two organisations – Football Club and Academy – have come together under one vision, philosophy and strategic plan is unrivaled in my experience in player development. NZ Football is already benefiting from the initiatives of the two organisations and will be a major beneficiary in years to come.
Simon Elliott: Olé Football Academy Ambassador, Former New Zealand International (1995 – 2011)