Shane Rufer was one of the first New Zealanders to play professional football in Europe, and has been one of the biggest influences in developing and promoting football in this country. To call him something of a football superstar is not a stretch, and since settling in Palmerston North to be
closer to his children, Shane’s work with the local football community has influenced a large number of talented children.
When he first returned to New Zealand after a decade of playing and coaching for Swiss professional teams, Shane and his brother Wynton had a dream of starting football academies. They hoped to discover talent and develop football in our country. The brothers started their first academy in Auckland, and upon his move to Palmerston North, Shane decided to go solo and the Shane Rufer School of Football was born.
“Football is underdeveloped in New Zealand, so it was natural for me to bring my experiences from Europe and pass them on,” Shane shares.
He enjoys working with talented players, but admits that it is rare to discover talent. However, there is space to develop and influence children through sports life skills, like teamwork, discipline and self-esteem.
Shane lives by the principle of “you need to love what you are doing”, because he admits that it is difficult to make a living in football in New Zealand. Through his diverse programmes in the School, he gives his students the opportunity to go overseas, to New Caledonia and Japan, to train and discover the world of football. In turn, he invites foreign students to visit here and interact with the Kiwi culture.
Through the pursuit of discovering new talent and refining their skills, Shane does face stressful and taxing periods, but says, “You have to learn to be calm in the good times and calm in the bad times”.
Retirement for Shane is a far-fetched thought. “Every day you need to fight. Before challenging the world, you need to fight yourself.” For Shane it is something he has done all his life, and he looks forward to doing it for more years to come.