In fulfilling one of its visions to accelerate development of elite youth players in-country, the Cook Islands Football Association kicked off its national training academy programme last week.
The programme follows the recent successes of Cook Islands’ national teams that have performed well at Oceania tournaments in recent years and highlighted the need to further invest in youth football development.
In recent months, the Association gained the support of the Oceania Football Confederation to establish an Education Centre- a hub that will be fully inclusive of all football stakeholders and focus on player development and aligning it to structured learning programmes.
Spawning from this hub is the national training academy programme which has been dissected into five groups; Under-13 Boys, U15 Boys, U17 Boys, U20 Boys and U16 Girls, which train respectively over the week.
Administrating the programme is the CIFA’s technical department under the wing of technical director, Jess Ibrom, who is ensuring it all flows per plan.
“Quite simply we want to lift the standard of elite level players on Rarotonga for future Oceania and International tournaments,” he says.
“I believe 100% this programme will improve and develop the current crop in terms of enhancing their technical, tactical and physical conditioning attributes for the long-term.”
The national academies operate on an all-round holistic approach incorporating football, strength and conditioning, regular fitness tests, performance reviews, nutritional and video analysis lectures.
It is embodied by almost 100 players who have been talent identified from last year’s domestic football season in the seven clubs on Rarotonga.
“It is our vision to start this process some two to three years out from these future tournaments so that it places us in a stronger position when competing against other regional teams,” Ibrom says.
Already signs of a promising year was indicated last week in the high attendance of players throughout their respective age-group divisions.
“We’ve had a fantastic response from players who have been superb during every session and who are willing to see the programme through to the end,” Ibrom says.
The national academies will run from February until December, 2017.
– CIFA Media