This week Olé farewells two long-time academy players, Oscar Hough and Alex Clayton, who are bound for the USA, where they have both recently signed with NCAA Division 1 universities.
Oscar Hough is off to join the University of Central Florida Men’s Soccer team in Orlando. UCF is one of the top soccer programmes in the country, known for a progressive style of play. This is a great opportunity for Oscar to head into a highly regarded and professional environment to continue his playing journey.
After starting with Olé as a U12, Oscar made his First Team debut when he was 15 years old and has been playing senior mens football at the highest level since then, starting every game for the last three seasons.
Oscar was an integral part of the side who won the 2019 Central League title, is now coming off the back of his second National League season, and is part of the NZ U20 squad. At just 18, Oscar has excelled in the New Zealand landscape and is in a great position to take on new challenges and opportunities overseas.
Technical Director, Ben Sippola had no shortage of great things to say about Oscar, “Oscar is an absolute privilege to coach. He always puts forward his best effort and makes the teams he is part of better. In all of my time coaching, Oscar is by far and away one of the best people and players I’ve worked with. I wish him all the best and no doubt he has a bright future ahead.”
Oscar commented, “I will be forever grateful for the staff involved and the many teammates and lifelong friends I’ve made over the 6 years being part of this academy. The memories I’ve made and people I’ve met I will never forget. Nevertheless, I am super excited for the opportunity I have been presented with, and I will for sure make the most of it.”
Alex Clayton will join the West Virginia University Men’s Soccer team, who have just come off the back of one of the most successful seasons in programme history, advancing to the Elite 8 in the NCAA competition.
Alex has been a core part of Olé for seven years. He’s been part of two Central League title winning teams, a member of a ISPS Handa Premiership winning team and was part of a Chatham Cup Final. He’s become a seasoned player by New Zealand standards and is definitely ready for a new challenge. There’s no doubt he’ll make the most of the new experience coming his way!
“My 7 years at Olé and the lessons instilled in me there helped me develop into the player and person I am today. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity ahead of me at West Virginia University, reflected Alex.
“Alex is an amazing individual, who’s put a lot of work in to get to this point. He has some fantastic intangible qualities as a footballer and there’s no doubt he’ll be an impact player at West Virginia,” said Ben Sippola.
Olé CEO, Blake Jones commented, “We’re really excited for Oscar and Alex as they take this next step in their football career. They have each earned their way into two great schools and this will just be the beginning for them with regards to the opportunities to come their way. We wish them all the best and will be supporting them all the way from here in New Zealand.”
Olé extends appreciation to Oscar and Alex and both of their families for their time, dedication, hard work and support over the years. It’s been a pleasure to see both of these players develop into the people and players they are today. While they’ll be hugely missed by the staff, teammates and the community here in New Zealand, the Olé team cannot wait to see Oscar and Alex continue to grow both on and off the pitch in their new environments. Congratulations to you both, go well, guys!
Oscar and Alex join Olé alumni Jaylen Rodwell (University of Portland), Jarrod McKechnie (Liberty University) and Xavier Green (Ohio State) who are all currently honing their football craft in the USA.
Photo credit: Swee-Kin Loke and Matt Hastings
Tags: Olé Football Academy Olé Placement University Pathways Oscar Hough Alex Clayton UCF University of Central Florida University of West Virginia US University Ben Sippola Blake Jones