Words: ACFC Media
Monday 9 August 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - The partnership between Auckland City FC and Striv3 continues to grow stronger with news that two more players are set for US opportunities.
Striv3 have placed five Auckland City FC players into Universities in the USA, a list that includes Thomas Drillien, Malcolm Young, Micaiah Papa, Harry Freeman and first team debutant and U-23 regular, Matt Ellis.
Set to add to that impressive list are two more Navy Blues youngsters with another first team player Kristoff Muller and U-23 breakout player Rhys Davies the next to take their careers in an exciting new direction.
Striv3's Thomas Spragg, himself a former Navy Blues first team player, acknowledged the club's swiftness and agility in its pivot towards opening up chances for players in a rapidly changing New Zealand football landscape.
"Auckland City FC has done such a great job with developing their players in such a short space of time they've pioneered a pathway for youngsters to discover new opportunities to carve out a career in the game.
"The club is one of the best in New Zealand and they've given players like Matt Ellis and Kristoff Muller a chance to experience first team football which prepares them for when they get across to the USA.
"Matt Ellis is going to one of the best Division 1 Universities in the USA in Saint Peters, based in New York, and that doesn't happen unless there is good grounding prior to entering that environment. We're rapt and excited he's headed there," Spragg told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
While the player pathway in the USA is rapidly opening up, Spragg says Striv3 has adapted to the pandemic world with agility and professionalism.
"You may think the pandemic has affected our approach but it hasn't slowed things down for us, its actually sped up quite a bit. The USA University environment is super competitive and if recruitment slowed down it would give their rivals an edge.
"Covid-19 has been a challenge but they remain very active to find the best players and recruitment has become focused on online resources. Covid-19 restrictions mean international tours can't take place so coaches and recruiters are always looking at players online in other markets.
"In terms of player health and safety, the Universities run a very strict regime to prevent spread and an athlete can be written up for breaches of the precautions put in place. We've had no issues from this perspective so far.
"With Striv3, we've been operating smoothly in that reality since we began so when things ramped up we were in a very good position to adapt," he said.
Ellis, who made seven first team appearances before securing a future with Saint Peters extended his thanks to Auckland City FC and Striv3.
"I want to say a massive thank you to everyone. The set-up at Auckland City FC means everyone has really made it an enjoyable time with the club and I am sure I will see everyone in the future.
"I want to wish Auckland City FC all the best for the rest of the season, I am sure they'll smash it," Ellis said.
Auckland City FC U-23 coach Kris Bright was delighted to see the relationship between Striv3 and the club flourish.
"Auckland City FC has demonstrated a proven pathway from our club to opportunities abroad through our relationship with Striv3 and to see Matt Ellis and Kristoff Muller join the growing list of talent headed to the USA is an endorsement of our approach.
"We're told that once our players reach the College system in the USA, they immediately impress their coaches and athlete departments.
"They're thrilled to have our players in their environments and they fit in straight away. The environment set at Auckland City FC prepares the players for the challenges they face when they get to the USA," Bright said.
If you want to find out more about Striv3, you can contact them at the details below.
Thomas Spragg - Striv3
Kris Bright - Auckland City FC
v Western Springs, Sat 25 March 2023, Kiwitea Street, KO: 3pm NZST