Bunce spearheads academy initiative
Former professional Che Bunce believes his newly-established Waikato University Football Academy will fill a void in the development of highly promising footballers.
The former All White defender, who had spells in the United Kingdom and Europe, has set up a programme designed to give aspiring young players a thorough coaching programme combined with fulltime study.
"A lot of players, more than ever, want to play professional football," said Bunce, who will head the coaching set-up that will also include input from current All Whites assistant coach Neil Emblen, former All Whites coach Alan Jones, and ex-Waikato United and current West Bromwich Albion academy coach Roger Wilkinson.
"Often they go full-bore into training and forget everything else. But such a small percentage of players make it - there can be injuries, your face just doesn't fit, [there's] a lot of reasons why good players don't make it.
"They need a Plan B and this way they can do both. It's a stepping stone from high school to the professional level and they will train as professionals. I think it's a rung on the ladder that's been missing."
Bunce, who holds UK and NZ coaching qualifications, has long aspired to set up the academy.
"It's been in the pipeline for a while now, I thought it was something we really needed in New Zealand. It's something I wish we had when I was growing up and playing.
"I'd had talks previously with Waikato University and they were keen but I was working fulltime and it was tough to do," said Bunce, who is now studying law at Waikato.
Applications for an academy place close on January 15, with a maximum of 12 forming the first intake.
"We want to keep the quality high and have a good player-to-coach ratio," Bunce said.
"We've had tremendous feedback and a load of applications already."
The fees for the non-profit organisation are just over $2000, with the successful applicants receiving 32 weeks of coaching and other benefits from February next year.
Bunce said there were also scholarship opportunities available through the university. Details about the academy were available on Facebook.