Paul Ifill takes over coaching reins at Christchurch United

Club Academy
Christchurch United FC have signed former English Premier League and Wellington Phoenix player Paul Ifill as their new first team coach and head of their new women's football academy.

"We are incredibly excited and proud Paul Ifill has agreed to join us as our new first team coach and we are confident his top-flight experience will help Christchurch United take another step towards building Club's high performance culture and future success," says United President Slava Meyn.

Ifill will take over from Christchurch United icon Danny Halligan who decided to take a break from the game after 28 seasons of coaching.

"We are very thankful to Danny Halligan for his invaluable efforts to making the club great once more," says Meyn about Halligan's second stint at United, in which he took a second-tier team to the brink of the National League, two English Cup finals and two memorable Chatham Cup runs.

Ifill agreed to take on the first team coaching role after recently visiting United's state-of-the-art Christchurch Football Centre to discuss a new women's academy.

"When you see these facilities and you hear Slava's passion and vision, it is hard not to be impressed. I think Christchurch United is the sleeping giant of New Zealand football," says the coach who appeared in 341 English league matches for Millwall, Sheffield United and Crystal Palace before joining the Phoenix in 2009.

Since his injury-enforced retirement from the professional game in 2015, Ifill continued to play in the National League for Team Wellington, Tasman United and Hawkes Bay United, where he also took on the Assistant Coach role.

"I wasn't looking for a head coaching role, but after being assistant at Tasman and Hawkes Bay and Head Coach at Wairarapa in the Central League, this opportunity is the perfect next step in my coaching career," says the former Barbados international.

"It is a huge advantage to take over a team that had been moulded by such an experienced coach like Danny, at a club with the vision and resources to think big, so I am really excited by the opportunity."

Ifill in recent years set up his own football academy, PIFA, in the Wairarapa and has been heavily involved in the women's game with Wairarapa United and as the national coach of Samoa.

"The vision of Christchurch United is to create the best women's academy in the country, starting off with the youngest age-groups and slowly growing, just like United did with their men's academy," says Ifill.

"Canterbury teams have dominated women's football in this country, so there is huge potential in this region and we want to invest the resources to develop even more future Football Ferns."