Ifill may start academy here

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:50 06/06/2014

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Football star Paul Ifill is in talks with Nelson Suburbs FC about starting a football academy in Nelson, and has been linked with a future move to the region.

Just how much time the off-contract Wellington Phoenix striker spends in Nelson - should the academy get off the ground - will depend on injury rehab and his success in picking up another A-League contract with the Wellington club for their upcoming season.

"I've been speaking with the people down there about setting up an academy," Ifill said yesterday. "It seems an ideal time to do it, whilst I'm injured."

Ifill, 34, has not played since December, when he ruptured his Achilles tendon, but is acknowledged as the best player in Phoenix history. The Barbados international was a professional in England before making the move to New Zealand.

When Ifill was in Nelson in April he met representatives from Nelson Suburbs to discuss the potential for an academy.

"I aim to go down [to Nelson] again in July, to dot the i's and cross the t's and hopefully come up with some sort of plan going forward," said Ifill.

Ifill is still banking on playing professional football. A contract would rule out any potential move, but it would not preclude starting an academy.

"I'd have to speak to the [Wellington Phoenix] at a later date but at the moment I'm unemployed, so I'm allowed to do what I want. I can get down there and help out with the coaching, it's just sort of working through the logistics.

"I don't want to be the guy who lends his name to an academy and is never there, you know, I actually want to be hands-on and coach."

Suburbs operations manager Gary Hinks said the club would be thrilled if it went ahead, but there were more discussions to be had. "We have only met him once down here and nothing has been agreed to."

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- The Nelson Mail

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