Tauranga City FC aim to up development game

Photo: File.

Tauranga City Football Club is aiming to take talent development in the Western Bay to a new level with the announcement of a new coaching panel to lead its football strategy into 2019 and beyond.

The group is headed by current Waikato-Bay of Plenty Federation Football Development Officer Barry Gardiner, and includes Gareth Thomson, Maia Ririnui, Cameron Grieve and the club’s first team coach Nic Millichip. All have extensive experience in coaching and development at junior, youth and senior levels.

Working closely with other coaches at the club, Tauranga City chairperson Brendon McHugh says the group will establish a football environment aligned to the New Zealand Football (NZF) and WaiBOP frameworks.

It will cater for junior, youth and senior players and put in place a culture and pathway that promotes player and coach development.

“At the start of this season we had a few options to assess and chose to focus first on the youth space by bringing in Gareth Thomson,” says Brendon. “He’s done a tremendous job, mentoring our coaches and setting up our NZF-accredited skills centre and youth programmes. This new strategy will build from these foundations and extend to the seniors.”

The merger of Tauranga City United with the junior Mt Maunganui Football Club earlier this year to create Tauranga City FC set up the possibility of the move, says Brendon.

“Barry and I discussed the opportunities created by the merger and the strategy he and his team have put together captures those opportunities.

“There are options out there already for young players looking to develop their skills, and now we’ll have some of the most qualified coaches in the region delivering programmes at our club.”

As the Western Bay’s only club playing Northern League football, and their senior women’s team now also looking at NRFL promotion having just wrapped up the WaiBOP league again, Brendon believes Tauranga City offers up-and-coming talent the best pathway to develop their game in the Bay of Plenty.

While full details of the programmes will be released soon, Brendon says Barry Gardiner will take up a full-time technical director role from January, while the rest of the panel will be working on junior and youth programmes from term four this year.

Having had a recent stint with the club as first team coach, Barry says he’s keen to get back on board.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the club and working to build on the good work that’s been done in recent years,” he says.

“The foundations here are solid, and with the experience that’s coming in I’m confident we can create an environment to develop young players that, over the longer term, will push for places in the men’s and women’s first teams.”


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