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Oceania goalkeepers still kicking on

Phillip Mango, in red, playing for the Solomon Islands against the All Whites at the OFC Nations Cup in 2016. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

Oceania’s goalkeepers haven’t been forgotten during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s no football being played in the region while the Pacific continues to fight the spread of the virus.

This has forced James Bannatyne, OFC’s Goalkeeping Development Consultant, to explore other avenues to ensure the focus remains on improving the quality of goalkeeping in the region.

He regularly speaks with the region’s Development Officers and like other organisations around the globe, video conferencing has become the norm.

The past 18 months has been a successful period in the goalkeeping space for OFC given the full-time appointments of Development Officers in Tahiti, Tonga and the Solomon Islands.

Laurent Heinis is based in Tahiti, Soane Faupula works in Tonga and Phillip Mango is in the Solomon Islands.

Mango, 24, first met Bannatyne as a teenager and made his debut for the Solomons senior team in 2016.

He has amassed more than 20 international caps during his career and said working as the Solomon Islands Football Federation’s Goalkeeping Development Officer was an exciting opportunity.

“I am looking forward to helping goalkeeper coaches to become excellent coaches in teaching basic skills, while helping goalkeepers achieve their goals,” Mango said.

“James has also helped me in my personal development as a goalkeeper and with my role in the national team.”

Bannatyne said the Development Officers would play a crucial part in lifting the standard of goalkeeping in the region.

“We are really proud of the appointments the Member Associations have made and they bring a positive mix of experience and enthusiasm to their positions,” Bannatyne said.

“I have been involved with some of our Goalkeeping Development Officers since 2012 and know they will do a great job for their respective Member Associations and OFC.”

Part of OFC’s long-term strategy for goalkeeping is to ensure there’s a Development Officer in each of the 11 Member Associations.

The focus of this year’s work is in line with the 2026 OFC football development strategy, which includes helping build pathways for goalkeeping coaches and education development for coach instructors.

OFC has a range of goalkeeping resources and Bannatyne said the forced shutdown during the pandemic provided the Development Officers with a good opportunity to do planning for 2020 and beyond.

“Some of our coaching tools can be translated into their respective languages meaning they can deliver their advice to goalkeeping coaches with greater efficiency,” Bannatyne said.

When football does return, Bannatyne said the improvement of goalkeepers in OFC would continue to focus on the basics.

“The best in the world do the simple things exceptionally well,” the former All White noted.

“So, our focus for Oceania’s goalkeepers and goalkeeping coaches is understanding and identifying what the fundamentals are and how to deliver those on the field, while making it enjoyable to get involved in the process.”

Late last year, OFC conducted a three-day course in Auckland for 10 goalkeeping coaching instructors as part of the strategic development plan for 2019-2022.

Those in attendance will play a key part in the development of goalkeeping and football in our region.

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