An exciting Summer of football is ahead, after Western Suburbs FC qualify for the NZ National League. 

For the first time Western Suburbs FC, in partnership with the Olé Football Academy, will participate in the NZ National League.

Qualifying for the National League is a great extension to the academy pathway, providing the opportunity for academy players to continue playing meaningful games at New Zealand’s highest level of competition.

The new club based National League format is a huge advantage to Western Suburbs and Olé, as it keeps the group of players together, training under one methodology and in one consistent environment. This helps sustain momentum, and creates a seamless transition for the players.

Olé Football Academy Technical Director and Western Suburbs First Team Head Coach Ben Sippola provided some of his thoughts, “Part of our ethos as an organisation is to constantly seek new and uncomfortable challenges, as this is essential to the developmental process. The National League is a natural progression, providing the chance for players and staff to be further stretched and challenged at the highest level of New Zealand football. I’m really proud of the players in the whole organisation in contributing to the success of the First Team while experiencing much adversity in the process.”

Continuing to set the standard in providing opportunities for young, Kiwi players, the average age of the 2021 Western Suburbs First Team is 19.4 years overall, building on an average of 18.4 years in 2020, and 19.09 years in 2019.

The team has also had 8 young players move onto overseas environments since the 2020 Central League season; Marko Stamenic (F.C. Copenhagen, Denmark), Josh Rogerson (Torslanda IK, Sweden), Ryan Feutz (Torslanda IK, Sweden), Sean Bright (Torslanda IK, Sweden), Andrew Withers (Port Melbourne SC, Australia), Jaylen Rodwell (University of Portland, USA), Jarrod McKechnie (Liberty University, USA) and Logan Kinajil-Moran (Bucknell University, USA).

Kicking off in October, the NZ National League presents an amazing opportunity for Western Suburbs, Olé Football Academy and the football community. The First Team is the aspirational space for much of the youth academy, and seeing the team playing at this level is exciting for the young players who will be inspired to continue working hard and investing in their own development on and off the pitch. The staff look forward to building on this momentum, continuing to showcase young, Kiwi players, and see the academy-wide methodology and philosophy reinforced at the highest level.

“It’s going to be incredible National League season, being able to play together. We have relationships in this team that have been built over years of hard work and training and it’s great that this will be displayed on the National stage, the opportunity is amazing. The bonds within this team are really strong, we have played some of the best football I have ever seen in my time here, and it’s down to how close we all are – Every day, catching up and sweating out on the field together,” said First Team captain Mike Faber. 

Congratulations to the players on another great Central League season –  Everyone looks forward to what’s coming in the Chatham Cup and the National League.

2021 Central League squad:

  • Kees Sims (GK)
  • Alex Clayton
  • Mike Faber
  • Ben Stroud
  • Robi Sabo
  • Birhanu Taye
  • Oscar Hough
  • Wan Gatkek
  • Liam Gillion
  • Otto Ingham
  • Ihaia Delaney
  • Oscar Boyce (GK)
  • Bruno Penney
  • Jack O’Connor
  • Norman Garbett
  • Fergus Gillion
  • Xuan Loke
  • Adam Bell

Departed: Logan Kinajil-Moran (GK), Jaylen Rodwell, Jarrod McKechnie, Xavier Green

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