Former All Whites coach Ricki Herbert is teaming up with Cambridge High as the school sees a boom in the sport’s popularity.
The Ricki Herbert Football Academy has formed a partnership to help the school football programme as about one in 10 students take up the sport.
It’s become the school’s largest co-ed sport with about 175 boys and girls playing for teams ranging recreational to competitive.
Herbert, who moved to Cambridge in 2017, will oversee a programme to help develop the skills of coaches of the 11 teams, and provide specialised support for four of the school teams.
CHS football committee chair Jason Trower says the key has been to use the school’s values as the guiding principles for how football is coached and played.
“We’ve made huge progress in the last few years, not only in terms of our playing numbers but in what our students are achieving through football,” he says.
“We’ve adopted a methodology we call great people through football – it becomes part of everything we do, and how we go about it,” Trower says.
The school won the Waikato Secondary Schools’ first division in 2020 and finished fourth in the premier division last season.
CHS were competitive against the likes of Hamilton Boys’ High – who were Waikato and national champions – and St John’s College and St Peters, Cambridge, both of whom traditionally fare well at national tournaments.
Sixty-year-old Herbert says he loves “rolling up my sleeves and working with young footballers”.
“I’ve been most impressed by the attitude of the coaches, players and support people at CHS – now it’s a case of providing the technical support to help them on game day and on the training pitch.”
Steve Thomas, who has a successful track record in club football as the former chair of the Cambridge Football Club and coach of the club’s WaiBOP Championship team is coaching the boys first team.
Thomas initially became involved in the school football programme as a parent and has continued to coach there after his son left the school.