The Academy

The Academy by Wānaka AFC offers dedicated footballers from Wānaka and Central Otago the opportunity to achieve their football potential while nurturing a life-long love of the game. 

The Academy programme is designed and led by a team of highly experienced, professional football staff led by OFC/NZF B-License certified coaches Ben Sippola and Thomas Van Hees.

The Academy caters to every stage of player development, offering programmes for players from U7 through to U15. 

Who is the Pre-Academy for? 

The Pre-Academy programme is perfect for enthusiastic young footballers who are keen to be a part of a fun and supportive environment where they can build on the fundamentals of the game, learn and develop new skills and continue to foster their love for football. 

The Pre-Academy is offered for two age-groups:

  • U7 - U9
  • U10 - U12

Anyone within this age range is welcome to join us!

When does the Pre-Academy run? 

The Term 1 Pre-Academy will kick off on Monday 12, February 2024. It is an 8 week programme, concluding Thursday, 11 April 2024.

Each age-group will have one training session per week. 

Training Schedule:

U7 - U9: Monday | 4.00pm - 5.00pm | Wānaka Recreation Centre

U10 - U12: Thursday | 4.00pm - 5.00pm | Wānaka Recreation Centre

What are the costs?

The Term 1 Pre-Academy is $180.00. Following registration, you will receive an invoice from Wānaka AFC.

What else can I expect? 

  • The Pre-Academy programme is designed and led by our Director of Football Ben Sippola and Head Coach Thomas van Hees. Both are experienced, professional NZ Football licensed coaches who work with our team to create sessions according to best-practice for the players’ age 
  • Players are required to arrive for all training sessions in The Academy training kit. This will be provided for players in Term 1, and will need to be returned at the end of the programme. 
  • We always strive to make sessions fun and enjoyable. We also believe in fostering a committed attitude in our players. We encourage them to arrive on time, give their best and contribute to a positive training atmosphere where the focus is on football. 
  • Once the 2024 Wānaka AFC club season begins, the Pre-Academy sessions will be in addition to your players' once-per-week club team training. You can expect more information regarding the 2024 club season and training schedule from us very shortly.
  • Training communications will take place through WhatsApp. Our team will set up group chats before the programme commences.

How do I register my player?

Registration is done in Friendly Manager. Use your existing Wānaka AFC registration account, or if you’re new to the club, create an account. 


The Academy (U11 - U17)

The Academy at Wānaka AFC offers a year-round football programme for aspirational young players, with a clear pathway of progression and continued opportunities for ongoing development.

Participation in the academy programme is by invitation only. Players are also welcome to trial for the programme.

Please contact us directly if you would like to trial, receive a copy of our The Academy at Wānaka AFC 2024 Information Book or if you have any questions:

Term 1, 2024 training with The Academy will begin on Monday, 12 February, and conclude on Friday, 12 April. 

What are Fundamental Football Fridays? (FFF’s) 

This brand-new offering has been designed for devoted players who have shown an appetite for more training and are keen to spend dedicated time enhancing their fundamental football skills and technique.

FFS’s are specially tailored small-group training sessions. The aim is to target the essential foundational skills necessary for players to elevate the technical component of their game. 

These one-hour sessions are intentionally designed to be brief yet intense, focused and deliberate.

Players can expect to spend most of the hour with a ball at their own feet or with a ball between two.

The nature of the small-group experience means that players will receive greater 1-1 time with our staff and increased opportunities for on-the-spot feedback and coaching to help them advance further and faster. 

Each session will include a warm-up and a technical focus and incorporate an element of fun competition related to the session's focus. Players will also go away with things to practice in their own time at home.

FFF’s will cover, but won’t be limited to: 

  • Building competency with left foot and right foot
  • Ball manipulation / juggling / 3's and partner 3's
  • Passing, receiving, and first touch
  • Ball striking over distance
  • Croatia turns and opening out
  • Crossing, shooting, and finishing

Spaces will be limited. To secure a spot, please email