Cambridge FC and Matamata Swifts have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding a collaboration for youth and junior football that will run for the 2021 and 2022 football seasons.

The two Waikato clubs have agreed to work together to develop football in their communities, principally by offering a pathway in which aspirational players, coaches, volunteers, and members involved with both clubs are provided with a clear route to progress from junior to youth football. The two clubs will share match day facilities, training facilities, and clubroom facilities, as required.

Binding the collaboration is the relationship both clubs maintain with the Ricki Herbert Football Academy (RHFA). RHFA runs player development programmes in both towns and will add a Skill Centre programme in Matamata to the one that has been running in Cambridge for several years. RHFA also oversees Cambridge FC’s youth and junior Federation league programme.

General in nature to begin with, the initial term of this MOU could lead to further opportunities for co-operation between the two clubs.

Dwayne Barlow, Matamata Swifts’ President and Junior Co-ordinator, said this partnership will initially provide opportunities for the Swifts more aspirational young players.

“We don’t currently have the player depth to bring squads together to develop and grow in the Y- and J-League environment, but we do have players who are at that level,” said Barlow. “So, for 2021, we’ll be encouraging some of our young Swifts to trial for Cambridge’s Y- and J-League.

“It’s also exciting to establish a Skill Centre in Matamata. This will not only benefit any locally based players involved with Cambridge, but also younger players who aspire to be involved in that level in future seasons.”

Matt Malligan, Junior Co-ordinator at Cambridge FC, said: “It’s exciting to have this MOU in place. Bringing together our aspirational youth players together under one banner is a great move forward.”

Ricki Herbert, founder of the Ricki Herbert Football Academy, said: “It is great to formalise an MOU relationship with both Cambridge and Matamata clubs. RHFA can foster and develop players to aspire and achieve their optimal level of excellence, which is a great opportunity for all involved at all levels, including coaching development across all levels. A very exciting opportunity.”