The OFC Education Centre student-athletes were taken off the field and into the boardroom to learn about finance and public relations over the past week, thanks to OEC sponsor AIA.

As part of the holistic approach the OEC programme provides, Abert Vanva, Mohammed Naizal, Pele Fatu, Viliami Alipate Tukia, Emmanuel Simongi, Conroy Tiputoa and Steward Toata have spent the last two Thursday afternoons at AIA partner SweeneyVesty’s office in Auckland City and AIA’s office in Takapuna to learn about two very important subjects for the upcoming football stars.

SweeneyVesty were the first to host the student-athletes, giving them a run-down on what to expect from journalists and how to protect their image, addressing online activity as a crucial connection to fans, employers and future football clubs.

Tongan Tukia was surprised to hear about how important “being mindful of what I’m posting on Facebook” could be for his future as a football player and has decided to take a ‘three point’ approach to both online posting and communication with media.

“They told us to think of three things to say,” he said.

“Talk about how you’re feeling, what you’ve experienced and what you will take back to your home country. Those are the three things I want to talk about.”

After observing the student-athletes spending habits upon receiving an allowance, OFC Business Development Manager and OEC Administrator Justin Ellis reached out to AIA’s financial department to reiterate the importance of money management.

“Initially we saw some frivolous spending occurring which was possibly as a result of them not having had money before. As a result the management team looked after their allowances and prompted the student-athletes with probing questions about why they needed the money they were requesting,” he said.

“The questions were to install some personal thought to assist them thinking about spending and educating them about how to look after what they have,” he added.

The finance lesson, delivered by AIA NZ Head of Finance Paola Macaya, proved more challenging for the young men, but by the end of the day Macaya had given them a basic idea of budgeting and independently reinforced the points the management team had been talking to the student-athletes about already.

“I’ve learned about saving money, and to spend less than you earn. It’s all about money and how money can affect your career,” Tukia said.

With involvement in both the finance and football industries, OFC Accountant Ray Park believes that responsible money management is crucial for the young players’ futures.

“Even if you don’t want to take accounting or finance as a profession, we come across money related issues in everyday life,” he said.

“If you start to learn at young age how to avoid debt, how to build credit by managing credit cards strategically, how to invest, and the importance of responsible financial decisions, the knowledge you would accumulate will be massive by the time you are old enough to be financially responsible which means you are a step ahead of everyone else.

“The sooner you learn it, the greater the impact will be and by the time you leave the nest for college, you’ll be well informed and prepared to make important financial decisions on your own.”

After a trip to Rainbows End tomorrow and a series of final trainings and physical examinations, the student-athletes will return home to their countries on 26 November.

Additional information:

The OFC Education Centre – powered by AIA is a full-time pilot programme being implemented by the Oceania Football Confederation. Its purpose is to empower lives and develop high performance people by linking academic study with football learning led by OFC Education Centre coaching staff. Seven student-athletes from OFC Member Associations have been included in the inaugural intake, and will spend two terms at One Tree Hill College in Auckland, New Zealand.