Former All White Aaron Clapham is making rapid progress as a coach.
The long-time fixture in New Zealand’s national league – largely for Canterbury United who he represented more than 130 times – retired from playing in June.
Clapham believes his future lies in coaching and he was in Auckland last week completing the next phase of his OFC/NZF A Licence.
The 33-year-old works at Cashmere Technical in his hometown of Christchurch where he serves as the club’s Director of Football.
In July he was named as an assistant coach for the New Zealand men’s U-17 team.
Having had some time to think since hanging up the boots, Clapham said he remained content with his decision.
“Once you’ve stopped, you kind of have that moment to sit back and have a good look at it and it’s probably a real sense of pride looking back at where I started and where it got too, which I probably didn’t enjoy enough as I was going through that process because I’m always kind of looking at what’s the next thing,” he said.
“So, it was quite nice to have that little reflection period and look back on it and move forward again.”
The midfielder also played for Team Wellington and attended the FIFA Club World Cup with them in 2018.
Clapham picked up 13 caps for the All Whites and was one of only a few amateurs named in New Zealand’s squad that went to the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
In 2012, he was part of New Zealand’s OFC Nations Cup team that finished third at the tournament in the Solomon Islands.
He said playing in various parts of the Pacific was one of the highlights of his career.
“I had some great experiences right throughout Oceania and it was always a real privilege to get out to some different countries and see the passion for the game in those regions, no matter where you went.”
Despite picking up numerous accolades on the domestic scene in New Zealand, the midfielder was unable to nail down a long-term professional contract during his career but that did bring one positive outcome.
“At the time, probably not playing at a high level professionally was very frustrating but the plus side of that is throughout my playing career, I’ve done a lot of coaching.
“So I’ve coached at a number of levels for a number of years so for someone who’s coming out of playing, I’ve been doing coaching for quite a long time. So it’s definitely something that I want to pursue further and push more into that high performance environment.”
He is dipping his toes into that high-performance arena in his role with the New Zealand men’s U-17 team.
“It’s brilliant. I was really excited about that, getting that job was something that I hoped would happen and I thought might take another year or two, but it was brilliant to have that opportunity.
“For me, I’m passionate about football in this country and I want our players to be great. I really believe that we can do something special in the next five to 10 years with the youth players coming through, so I want to be able to be involved in that and play a role in that.”