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UNITEC and the Football Kingz forge partnership

Media Release Date 14 August 2002

UNITEC and the Football Kingz forge a unique sporting partnership

The newly formed partnership between UNITEC and the Football Kingz signifies a shift in the operation of the Kingz, and an opportunity to rebuild the culture of the club.

The partnership sees the Football Kingz base their entire operation at UNITEC Institute of Technology in Carrington Road, Mt Albert, locating the players and management together for the first time in the club's history.

The partnership is a holistic one, with education opportunities for current players, an academy for the players of the future, and an opportunity for the Football Kingz to be part of the 20,000-strong campus community at UNITEC.

For Kingz Director Chris Turner the new partnership provides an opportunity to rebuild the club. "The 2001 season was a very difficult one," said Turner, "and it made us focus on building a football club and getting the infrastructure right.

"In the past, we have been very much a one-team club. We are now looking to build the infrastructure of the club over the next 2-3 years, and the partnership with UNITEC allows us to do this.

"From our perspective, the partnership means, firstly, practical opportunities such as the facilities, fields and gymnasiums at UNITEC. Secondly, it gives our players educational opportunities. Thirdly, it allows us to set up structures such as the youth academy in behind our first team. The other key aspect is that we want to build our culture, and we feel that being part of the UNITEC community will play a part in that."

Culture played a major role in today's official launch of the Football Kingz-UNITEC partnership, with a powhiri to welcome the Kingz organisation to UNITEC.

"We feel that UNITEC can really help the Kingz," said Nikki Turner, head of UNITEC's School of Sport. "UNITEC has a strong culture and I know that's what the Kingz are looking to develop."

UNITEC will provide the Kingz with office facilities, a floodlit international-size training field with seating, and use of the Recreation Centre on campus - the Eta O'Ryan's Stadium.

The UNITEC School of Sport will also provide the Kingz with access to their specialist staff expertise, including six accredited sports science deliverers and specialists in biomechanics, nutrition, sports psychology, exercise physiology, exercise prescription, and strengthening and conditioning.

Students enrolled in UNITEC's sports courses will also be available to participate with the Kingz on marketing or strategic planning projects, providing practical experience for students.

The Kingz will be part of a large international community at UNITEC, and many of the 18,000 students on campus are passionate about soccer. "I'd like to think that some of the students within UNITEC could start up a big supporters club," said Nikki Turner, "and feel some ownership towards the team."

Another feature of the partnership is the creation of the UNITEC Football Kingz Youth Development Programme.

This programme will become part of UNITEC's Certificate in Athlete Development, which combines specialised coaching and training in a specific sport with education in areas such as sports nutrition, personal and career development, sports psychology, and strengthening and conditioning.

The Certificate in Athlete Development is a one-year course, which aims to prepare the nation's most promising athletes for the demands of elite competition. Those wishing to further their studies can enrol in a Diploma in Sport and Fitness Education or the Bachelor of Sport.

UNITEC currently has Certificate programmes in rugby, squash, softball, golf and soccer, which have been established in conjunction with North Harbour Rugby, Squash NZ, Softball NZ, Auckland and North Harbour Golf, and Soccer2.

The UNITEC Football Kingz Youth Development Programme will become a new Certificate in Athlete Development course, with its first intake of students next February.

The programme will select young footballers of promise from around the country who'll participate in the Football Kingz training and activities, as well as the educational components of the course.

Nikki Turner describes the programme as "an opportunity to build, with the Football Kingz, a good base of soccer players - some of whom will go on to play professionally, some of whom will build the club structure within Auckland and the rest of the country, and some of whom will move into careers in business and the sports industry."

"We want to ensure that all the players who come out of the programme are good citizens who are well balanced and able to see a bigger picture, as opposed to the narrow picture that elite athletes can have."

Chris Turner said he was very excited about the UNITEC Football Kingz Youth Development Programme. "The partnership with UNITEC allows us to offer New Zealand's football players of the future a far greater opportunity than we would ever have been able to offer them by ourselves.

"This programme will give footballers who are considering a professional career the experience and background they'll need, so that when they finish they have a running head start on other players, or even potentially a contract here or overseas.

"If they aren't going to make it on the international sporting stage, then the programme allows them to consider a career in areas sports management, coaching or physical education.

"The programme also allows us to build beyond a one-team club, bringing the next range of players under our first team into an academy structure, and developing them."

The Kingz will be promoting the UNITEC Football Kingz Youth Development Programme when they embark on a road trip around New Zealand in early September, which involves pre-season games against Northern Spirit, and a Nigerian Youth team.


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