Student-athletes from Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji were greeted by a traditional Powhiri today, their first official day attending the inaugural OFC Education Centre at One Tree Hill College.
Mohammed Naizal, Viliami Alipate Tukia, Pele Fatu, and Abert Vanva will soon be joined by Emmanuel Simongi from Papua New Guinea, Steward Toata from Solomon Islands. While Cook Islands U-20 player Conroy Tiputoa will join the group upon his return from representing his country at the OFC U-20 Championship currently underway in Vanuatu.
The seven boys will attend One Tree Hill College while participating in a training programme with OFC outside of school hours to develop both their academic and football performances.
OFC Head of Education and Training Giovani Fernandes coordinated the rigorous selection process to find candidates with the potential to perform in the Education Centre.
“We created guidelines around the principles of the programme establishing the profile of athletes we’d like to have in the Education Centre,” he said.
“We then liaised directly with the technical directors and the member associations. From there it was their call to nominate the players they wanted to include in the programme,” he added.
The OFC Education Centre philosophy is to develop high performers, by identifying specific individual needs and motivations, repeatedly reinforcing processes to accomplish tasks and therefore forming habits through the creation of a competitive environment.
The Education Centre will achieve this through an approach that aims to develop the potential of OFC stakeholders promoting learning through ownership, awareness and responsibility.
“The centre is a very significant initiative to OFC because it reflects OFC President David Chung’s vision for leaving a legacy in the region,” Fernandes said.
“The focus of the programme is on education, and not only academic education. We needed to identify the specific needs of the student-athletes and through the support of OFC and the President, address those needs and help them improve.
“Long-term we want to develop high performance people. This means we want to develop ethical people, people that give their best in everything they do, think the best they can possibly think to perform, and evaluate their own performances. Those are the four key areas we will help them improve.”
The Education Centre is a full-time programme and balancing the students’ academic workloads with their football development is high priority.
“They will have football contact with the OFC Education Centre coaching staff on a daily basis. The training load and content will be monitored and adapted according to players’ needs.
“At the same we will place a strong individual focus on the establishment of personal development activities for all student-athletes.”
One Tree Hill College Dean of International Students Jenny McMurray will be pivotal in creating the home-study-sport balance for the student-athletes throughout their time in the Education Centre.
“I’ll be the one in charge of their academic oversight, organising initial assessments and timetables and making sure that they’re keeping up with the classes that they’re put into, and then I’m also in charge of the pastoral care,” she explained.
McMurray is confident that the Centre will not only broaden the perspectives of the student-athletes, but will also benefit the college by exposing class members to new cultures.
“This is a wonderful window to Oceania,” she said.
“Our student body wouldn’t have met students from such exotic places as Vanuatu and Solomon Islands before, so it’s that greater process of internationalising our students that stands to benefit.
“It will open the boys’ eyes hugely, but it will also open our students’ eyes.”
The student-athletes will spend three full days completely under the wing of McMurray, with English language classes provided to meet each student’s unique needs, then they will gradually integrate into the college’s standard classes.
The seven student-athletes will participate in the OFC Education Centre until the end of term four.