The future of goalkeeping in Oceania is in increasingly safe hands as the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and New Zealand Football (NZF) recently ran a coaching course attended by participants from across the region.

Prospective coaches across six different Member Associations took part in the OFC/NZF Goalkeeper C course over four days in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand earlier this month.

The course was led by an ex-New Zealand international in NZF’s Chris Marsh, with participants partaking in pre-course online modules, in course practical and theoretical learning before leading their own sessions at the end of the course.

He believes the course is “vitally important” toward the development of goalkeepers and coaches who can support them across New Zealand and the Pacific.

“The OFC/NZF GK C Licence is the first step on the advanced coaching pathway for our coaches,” said Chris.

“Every team in our region has a goalkeeper so we need to develop our outfield coaches and goalkeeper coaches in a robust way. This will ensure they can support our goalkeepers to succeed in what is a dynamic and demanding position. Watch out for the next step in the pathway OFC/NZF B Licence coming out in 2023.”

Candidates from American Samoa (1), Samoa (1), Solomon Islands (2), Tonga (2) and Vanuatu joined others from across New Zealand on the course.

OFC Goalkeeping Development Officer and former All Whites goalie James Bannatyne assisted on the course while participants also bonded over early morning swims and social events during their time in New Zealand.

“It’s amazing to have seven participants from other Member Associations,” said James. “It shows a massive commitment from them individually and their respective MAs to support their attendance. The goal for them now is to ensure the work is consistently delivered with quality for the goalkeepers when they get home.

“Personally, living in Mount Maunganui it was great to be able to show them all where I live having been to all participants home countries a number of times over my 10 years working with OFC supporting goalkeeper development.”

Tonga international goalkeeper Tangimausia Patolo took part in the course, held from November 3-6 at Links Avenue, home ground of Tauranga City AFC. She is excited to take some of the lessons learned back to her homeland.

“It has been a good experience for me,” she said. “It is my first time in New Zealand and it is a good opportunity for me to learn because back in the Kingdom we do not teach them before they reach a higher level but on this course I have learned it is more important to teach them when they are still young kids so they can grow up step-by-step and have more knowledge and development as goalkeepers.”

New Zealand-based Mark Baple is originally from the UK but is currently a goalkeeper coach with Gisborne Thistle AFC. He has previously spent time working and living in Ghana so collaborating with new cultures comes naturally and he was happy to see such a broad demographic on the course.

“I have really become friends with a lot of them over the course and we all have different learning styles and immersing in their different culture as well.

“We have all gone for a swim at 6.00am in the morning and it has been really nice. For them to go back to their countries and develop football and the kids, especially in goalkeeping is crucial.”

As well as those from across the MAs, coaching prospects from across New Zealand, including Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua, descended on the Bay of Plenty to take part. This included several local coaches, including Otūmoetai FC’s Rochelle Weller.

The former Gore Wanderers stopper was pleased to meet with like-minded individuals as she looks to continue the rewarding work she does with young goalkeepers at her club.

“It is great seeing the kids on a Saturday when they come running up to you saying, ‘Oh did you see that save’, and knowing you helped that’s what drives it for me.

“It can be quite lonely being a goalkeeper, you feel like you are stuck out by yourself, so it has been great to meet some other goalies.”

The next OFC/NZF Goalkeeping C Licence course is being held at Logan Park, Dunedin from Friday December 9 to Monday December 12 2023 with registrations closing Friday, November 25. Interested parties can register for the course here.