The Wellington Phoenix have moved quickly to find a new academy director, appointing Canterbury’s Lee Padmore.
Padmore (34) returns to Wellington to replace Steve Coleman, who is leaving at the end of January 2024 to pursue a new opportunity overseas.
Padmore was a youth development coach at the Phoenix academy for 12 months from September 2018 before joining Mainland Football to be the director of football and head coach of Canterbury United.
Since the national league system was restructured, he has been Mainland Football’s technical lead while also coaching Selwyn United men’s first team.
Gill: ‘I don’t think there’s anyone better qualified …’
Phoenix director of football Shaun Gill is thrilled Padmore is rejoining the club.
“Lee was the first person I called when Steve resigned,” Gill said.
“He has a comprehensive knowledge of the football landscape in New Zealand and he already knows how the club operates.
“I don’t think there’s anyone better qualified to be academy director.
“I expect Lee will build on the incredible growth Steve and Paul Temple oversaw in their time in charge of the academy.”
Lee Padmore can’t wait to get started next month.
“The academy’s been built on really strong foundations so to be able to hopefully take it to the next level is something that’s really exciting,” Padmore said.
“There’s been big growth at the academy and there’s some good people involved and everyone wants to work with good people.
Padmore: ‘I think a little bit differently’
“It obviously sparks your interest when you look at what’s happening in the men’s and women’s first teams and the amount of academy players graduating into professional football.
“And just the quality of what’s been done at the academy in a short space of time makes everybody want to be part of it.”
He believes he’ll bring a different skillset to his predecessors.
“I think a little bit differently. I’m not the subject matter expert that they are. I’m very much more of a leader of people.
“Engaging people and engaging wider communities are where my strengths lie. That’s how I’ve been successful in the Mainland region.
“I’ll work closely with the academy’s stakeholders both at Capital Football and New Zealand Football, the clubs around the Phoenix and the parents of our academy players.”
Academy now has more than 150 players
Padmore says his biggest challenge will be managing the growth of the academy, which now boasts eight age-group teams and more than 150 young male and female footballers.
“The growth’s happened in a very small period of time and you’ve got to make sure you consolidate as well as keep moving forward.
“People sometimes get a little bit ahead of themselves and want everything right now. But if you understand where it’s come from, you realise it’s come a long, long way and maybe you’ve got to enjoy that sometimes.
“The other challenge, which is the exciting one, is to continue the development that has happened previously.
“A lot of players have kicked on in the male and female space into the first teams and you’ve got to make sure that pathway stays as strong as it possibly can.”
Lee Padmore will spend some time at the academy with Steve Coleman this week before officially starting in the role on Monday, February 5.