A New Zealand-born coach with international experience has completed his UEFA Pro Licence, Europe’s highest coaching qualification.
Olli Harder (36), currently Sporting Director and women’s head coach at Norwegian club SK Brann, has coached professionally in the United States, China and England.
Having played as a goalkeeper in New Zealand’s national league, Harder cut his coaching teeth at Auckland’s Massey High School (girls) and Lynfield College (boys) before heading overseas in 2008.
He was head coach of West Ham United’s women’s team for two years, moving to Norway in May last year.
Harder joined SK Brann Kvinner as Sporting Director but in December, agreed a two-year contract to be the women’s head coach as well, after the departure of manager Alexander Straus who moved to lead Bayern Munich’s women.
‘Olli has done a fantastic job’
Brann’s general manager, Christian Kalvenes, told the club’s website:
“Olli has done a fantastic job with the team, and in this year’s season he and the coaching team led the team to both league and cup gold.
“We wanted to resolve the coaching issue for next year internally, and after discussions, we have agreed to continue with Olli. We are very happy about that.”
Harder, who completed a Sports Science degree at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology, has become one of New Zealand’s highest-qualified coaches working overseas.
He completed the pro licence course which had high-profile tutors, including Ståle Solbakken, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Henning Berg, Bjørn Mannsverk and Erik Hamren. Study trips included travelling to matches in the Premier League, Champions League, Europa League and Conference League.
Harder had coached in Norway before his stint at West Ham, being head coach of women’s club Klepp IL from 2017 until 2019, and being an assistant manager of the Norway men’s under-23 team.
He was nominated for the Norwegian Coach of the Year award in 2017 and 2018.
Main photo: Olli Harder … now has Europe’s highest coaching qualification.