Oceania Football Confederation Joins Forces with Asia Pacific Football Academy

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Talented young Pacific Island footballers will have a clearer pathway to the top thanks to the signing of a historic partnership between OFC and the Asia Pacific Football Academy (APFA).

APFA is a New Zealand-based international class residential youth academy offering a unique football player development programme, operating in conjunction with England’s Chelsea Football Club.

The Cooperation and Development Agreement is set to accelerate the development of elite young players from around the Oceania region following the establishment of youth academies in OFC member associations, based on the successful APFA model.

OFC technical director Patrick Jacquemet says the partnership came to fruition after APFA managing director Andy Smith presented OFC with the successful academy model.

“Andy visited us about a year ago and showed us what he was doing, explained the structure and said that he would like to work in conjunction with OFC to develop emerging talent in the region,” Jacquemet says.

“With the OFC President David Chung and General Secretary Tai Nicolas, we visited the academy in Christchurch and found it was an interesting tool which spoke to us in terms of what we want to implement in our member associations.”

While academies modeled on the APFA structure are expected to be developed in each member association, two countries have already been identified this year – Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu – with APFA and OFC staff set to start collaborating as early as next week.

“Vanuatu already has an academy of their own but we will have a look at all the processes – the organisation, the functioning – and will integrate what exists with the APFA model,” Jacquemet says.

“APFA head coach Giovani Fernandes will be completely involved, visiting each country and putting in place the structure at the academies and we will be behind him offering support.”

New Caledonia’s Mickaël Partodidromo became the first Pacific Island footballer to attend the APFA in Christchurch and Jacquemet says the partnership will allow other Pacific Island players to follow in his footsteps.

“The idea is to give the best players from different member associations the chance to experience an environment where not only do they train in the best conditions, but also have the opportunity to study,” he says.

“Education is an aspect for us that is especially interesting about the academy. To play football and at the same time study is the best opportunity for these youths. If they aren’t successful in football or in sport they will still have an education behind them which will help them find work.”

The Cooperation and Development Agreement is for one year initially, but includes an option to extend if both parties are happy with the arrangement.

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