Academy programme helps kids

17:00, Jul 07 2014
Ayden Sasagi and Anthony Alefaio
FOCUSED: Ayden Sasagi, 20, left, and Anthony Alefaio, 18, have found confidence and ambition from the Village Community Services Trust’s Sports Academy.

It takes a village to raise a child.

That's the approach former All Black Michael Jones takes with the Village Community Services Trust.

He established the Avondale-based organisation 15 years ago to give youth focus and ambition through free initiatives including holiday programmes, mentoring and food banks.

Michael Jones
BALANCE: Trust founder and former All Black Michael Jones says it is important for youth to combine a love of sport with a good education. 

Ayden Sasagi and Anthony Alefaio are just two examples of how students find motivation and ambition.

They are part of the trust's Sports Academy programme where youths obtain tertiary qualifications through alternative education.

The academy is partnered with Unitec and gives youngsters struggling in mainstream education opportunities to unleash their potential with a focus on sport and the outdoors.


The curriculum includes numeracy and literacy classes, leadership and career development programmes as well as sports and physical activity.

Sasagi, 20, left Massey High School halfway through his final year and was working as a scaffolder when he joined the academy four months ago.

He initially wanted to further his skills in different trades but now hopes to become a youth worker.

"I've met a lot of misguided youth and being around them has had a big impact on me," he says.

"I want to show them that there are alternatives to stealing and being on the streets."

Leadership roles are a big focus and students are required to organise, coach and referee sport games.

Sasagi says he's noticed his confidence improve ten-fold.

"I've been able to get out of my comfort zone and become a more active and confident person rather than blend into the background."

Fellow student, 18-year-old Alefaio, left Liston College last year as a year 12 pupil because he felt school wasn't for him.

He wants to become a mechanic and the academy has equipped him with the skills to study an automotive engineering course at Unitec.

"The academy opens up so many different pathways," he says.

"You don't necessarily have to be interested in a trade - it can help you into any course whether it's arts or music."

The academy's next course begins on July 21 and it will be offering students both level two and three tertiary qualifications.

Go to, call 828 6520 or 021 493 592 for more information.

Western Leader