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Duo benefit from Phoenix Academy experience

Two Pacific Island youth recently spent a week in Wellington taking advantage of the weekly programme which sees players integrated into the Wellington Phoenix Football Academy (WPFA).
Bastien Collet from Tahiti and Dwayne Tiputoa of the Cook Islands were welcomed into the fold by WPFA head coach Jess Ibrom, who says both showed some positive qualities.
“Both Dwayne and Bastien were a pleasure to work with in terms of work ethic, attitude and personality shown throughout the week,” Ibrom says.
“As well as showing a strong willingness to listen and learn and develop their own individual game.”
The programme is a week-long fully holistic experience for prospective players to enter the WPFA on a full-time basis, and sees them live like a full-time academy player.
“Everything we perform with the full-time players here in Wellington is replicated in the weekly programme,” Ibrom says.
“This includes fitness testing – so we are able to benchmark the players against our current crop, nutritional lectures, pathway lectures, performance analysis sessions, full technical and tactical football programme, core performance programme, pre-hab and post-hap programmes and a programme debrief.
“As well as this all players receive a full technical and tactical Individual Performance Plan of their time at WPFA once the programme has finished and this acts as an ongoing development tool for the player.”
There are a number of ways a player can enter into the weekly programme, either through the player or their parents contacting WPFA, through a recommendation from a contact in the global field, a recommendation directly from OFC or a player that has been identified from a previous field visit to that country.
For Collet, it was a Facebook ad which alerted him to the programme and after a bit of pleading with his parents he soon found himself winging his way across the Pacific from Tahiti to Wellington, New Zealand.
“Even after just two days I noticed the huge difference between the Academy and what we do back home,” he explains of the new experience.
“It’s almost like being a professional footballer, whereas in Tahiti it’s really all just amateur.”
Collet has been involved in the game since he was just four years old, and says he would love to return to the academy if the opportunity arises as he enjoys the intensity and the environment that supports constant learning and development.
“At the beginning I found it pretty hard in terms of communication as I don’t have an outstanding level of English. But I managed to adapt and the other players were very cool with me so it’s been a great experience.”
For his Pacific Island comrade Tiputoa, the week in Wellington was an awakening of sorts.
The 16-year-old was a member of the Cook Islands U-17 squad which won through the preliminary and on to the OFC U-17 Championship in 2013, having come through the ranks with both his club and the Cook Islands Football Association.
He says WPFA was a fantastic experience, and a major step up from anything he’s been involved in to date.
“The level is quite a bit higher than what we have back home – it’s big time different,” he expounds.
“Even the warm-up here in Wellington is completely different to what we do back home. There it’s very basic, just running up and down the lines. What we do here is stretches and warm-ups I never knew or couldn’t have thought of myself. It’s the next level.”
And after the experience of a lifetime, the future looks bright for the two based on the feedback from Ibrom.
“In terms of technique and skill both players performed basic core skills on both sides of the body in terms of dribbling, control, passing and receiving to an adequate level,” he describes.
“Both Dwayne and Bastian were able to perform the skills that were asked of them in the technical and tactical sessions that took place throughout the course of the week to a good level, and as with all players who are currently part of the full-time programme still need to continue to focus on developing the weaker sides of their technical game.”
Ibrom says in terms of comparison to other players that attended throughout the week, both fell into the higher category in terms of their all-round game.
The pair will receive their full technical and tactical Individual Performance Plans, including testing data, by Friday, 10 May.

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