Accelerator Programme to push coaches to next level

Thursday 16 April 2009, 2:58PM

Six coaches have been selected as the first intake for a pressure-cooker programme aimed at turning good coaches into great ones.

All Blacks Assistant Coach Steve Hansen is among the six coaches who have been selected for the Coach Accelerator Programme, a new initiative designed to hone the skills of coaches to ensure they are capable of producing World, Olympic or Paralympic champions.

The selected coaches are: Mike Hesson (cricket), Yvette McCausland-Durie (netball), Tom Willmott (snowboarding), Dave Thompson (rowing), Dayle Cheatley (track cycling) and Hansen (rugby).

The programme, which is funded by SPARC and run by the New Zealand Academy of Sport North Island, is aimed at addressing a shortfall of world class coaches in New Zealand.

SPARC High Performance Manager Marty Toomey says the selected coaches are highly talented individuals who are passionate about driving their skills up another gear.

“The aim of Coach Accelerator is to build a pool of world class coaching talent through an intensive training and development programme.

“Top coaches, just like elite athletes, need to be pushed and challenged to take them to the next level and Coach Accelerator looks to deliver that,” Toomey said.

The three-year Coach Accelerator Programme will provide financial support and professional development training for the coaches.

Over that time, the participants will receive individually-tailored professional development, attend residential camps, and get sport-specific and generic coaching training.

A further five coaches will be selected each year so that there are about 15 coaches going through the programme at any one time.

The Coach Accelerator Programme has been welcomed by New Zealand Cricket’s John Wright, who proved his international coaching credentials during his time in charge of India.

``It is absolutely necessary,’’ he says. ``It seems to me, if we want to have world class athletes, we need world class coaches.’’

For further information , please contact Sue Eden on 04 472 8058 ext 3090, 021 490 797 or by emailing, or call John Tulloch on 04 472 8058 ext 3978, 021 953 349 or by emailing

Coach Accelerator Q & A

What is the Coach Accelerator Programme?

The Coach Accelerator is a three-year learning and development programme designed to create New Zealand coaches capable of producing World, Olympic and Paralympic champions.

By the end of 2012, the programme will have produced at least 10 coaches capable of coaching medal-potential athletes or teams, with other coaches working through the programme.

The programme was developed to address a shortfall of coaches at the elite level in New Zealand. While there are some fantastic coaches at the top, there is a lack of depth as coaching moves from amateur to fully professional. SPARC needs to accelerate coaches who have the potential to get to the top.

Who was eligible to take part?

Coaches from all sports were eligible to apply.

What was the selection process?

Applications for the 2009 intake closed in January. Forty coaches, from 16 sports, applied for the positions and in March a panel selected the six coaches announced today.

The aim is to select another five coaches each year after this.

What does the Coach Accelerator course entail?

The group will complete a learning and development programme delivered primarily through four compulsory residential camps each year.

The first residential camp starts on Monday April 20. New Zealand Post chief executive John Allen and New Zealand Defence Force Chief of Army Major General Lou Gardiner will be delivering part of the course, focusing on leadership.

Each coach will receive sport-specific training as well as training in generic coaching skills.

How long is the programme?

Each intake will take three years to complete the programme. The emphasis in the first two years is on professional development while in year three, the coaches will be immersed in coaching high performance athletes.

What is the cost?

Coaches in the programme will receive a salary, which they negotiate with their national sports organisation, and their expenses will be met. SPARC’s contribution is $50,000 a year per coach.

The New Zealand Rugby Union is not seeking any contribution towards Steve Hansen’s salary.

When does their training begin?

Training for the first intake begins this month.

The programme is being run by Dr Alex McKenzie, from the New Zealand Academy of Sport North Island. Dr McKenzie is a former senior lecturer in sport psychology at the School of Physical Education at Otago University, a former professional development manager for the Highlanders and the Hurricanes Super Rugby franchises, and a former team development specialist for New Zealand Post.

Coach Bios

Dayle Cheatley (Track Cycling)

Dayle Cheatley, of Wanganui, is currently New Zealand track cycling assistant coach.

Cheatley was a competitive cyclist for about 18 years. He raced for New Zealand at junior and senior levels for more than 10 years, mostly on the track where he won more than 10 Oceania and national titles.

His roles have included being Southland’s track and road cycling coach, and coaching development manager for BikeNZ.

Cheatley has been part of the coaching staff for the New Zealand team at World Cups and World Championships and was part of the support team for Alison Shanks, who won the world individual pursuit title in Poland in March.

He is the son of former New Zealand cycling coach Ron Cheatley.

Dayle Cheatley’s wife is Catherine Cheatley, a Beijing Olympian who is currently racing for a professional road team in the United States.


Steve Hansen (Rugby)

Steve Hansen, the All Blacks assistant coach and forwards coach, joined All Blacks Head Coach Graham Henry in the All Blacks coaching team in 2004. He had earlier succeeded Henry as coach of Wales in 2002.

Together with Henry and fellow assistant coach Wayne Smith, Hansen has helped guide the All Blacks to 55 wins in 63 tests including four Tri-Nations titles. Hansen led Wales to the quarterfinals at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

His coaching career began in Canterbury, highlighted by NPC First Division titles in 1997 and 2001. He served as assistant coach of the Crusaders from 1999-2001 helping the franchise collect two Super rugby titles. He also coached New Zealand A on their tour to Europe in 2000.


Mike Hesson (Cricket)

Dunedin-born Mike Hesson was director of coaching for Otago Cricket from 1996 to 2004.

He is currently based in Dunedin in his fourth season as head coach of the Otago Volts. Under his tenure the Otago Volts won the State Shield 2007-08 and the State Twenty20 2008-09.

He is also currently coach of New Zealand ``A’’ team – the team drew its test series vs India A in India, and drew the test series and won the One Day and Twenty/20 series against England Lions.


Yvette McCausland-Durie (Netball)

Yvette McCausland-Durie has played touch rugby at senior provincial level, was a member of the NZ Netball squad for 14 years as a provincial netball player, and was a National Track and Field World Junior representative.

She has combined playing and coaching since 1991 culminating in her role as NZ Under 21 head coach from 2006-2009 following the team’s success in 2005 in gaining the title as World Youth Cup Champions, when Yvette was assistant coach. Yvette has coached all levels of the game, combining educational qualifications, playing and teaching experiences into her coaching style.

Yvette completed her Masters thesis in 2007 on Maori netball player retention issues and is passionate about athlete development in the wider sense of the word.

Yvette is currently Project Manager of TU TOA – a supervisory arm of The Correspondence School -- offering holistic individualised programming for secondary aged students which combines her passion for teaching, youth, netball and sports administration.

Yvette is the Central PULSE Head Coach in the ANZ Championships.


Dave Thompson (Rowing)

Dave Thompson was born and raised in the Hawkes Bay and this is where he also started his coaching career.

For the past nine years, Thompson has been living in Cambridge with his wife and three children.

For the past three seasons he has been head coach of Hamilton Boys High School. He is also coach of the New Zealand Under 23 Coxless four for 2009.

He was previously head coach for the NZ Junior rowing programme 2008, top Junior NZ Coach 2008, and Waikato Secondary Schools Coach of the year 2008.

At International level he has coached:

2008 – Men’s Junior Eight – Silver medal at Junior World Championships

2007 – Under 23 Men’s Coxless fours – Silver medal at the U23 World Rowing Championships

2007 – Men’s Under 23 Single – Gold at the U23 World Rowing Championships

2006 – Women’s Junior Coxless four – fifth at the Junior World Championships

2005 – Men’s Double Scull – third at the Junior World Championships.


Tom Willmott (Snowboarding)

Born in Shrewsbury, England, Tom Willmott has been living in New Zealand since 1998 - based in Wanaka.

His personal snowboarding highlights include representing the United Kingdom at World Cup level competition in the halfpipe; he placed third at the New Zealand Open in 2004; and was British Snowboardcross Champion in 2006.

From 2001-2005, he coached regional and national junior teams, and has been coaching the New Zealand national team since 2005.

Willmott, 30, has coached members of the New Zealand snowboarding team to podium performances at Youth World Championship, United States Nationals, World Cup, World Cup Finals and Open Series events.

In 2001, he completed a Bachelors degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Wales, and in December 2008 completed a Masters degree in Physical Education at the University of Otago.

He enjoys snowboard mountaineering and when he is not coaching works as a heli-guide for Backcountry Helicopters in Makarora.

Willmott says he has been on ``endless winter’’ since 1997 but regularly defrosts in the tropics for a surfing holiday between northern and southern hemisphere winters.