Peter Smith – Head Coach

Peter has had over 20 years experience coaching football to a wide range of age groups. He currently works for WaiBOP Football as the Football Development Officer for Western Bay of Plenty, based in Tauranga, and is also involved mentoring the coaches of the Bay of Plenty Women’s team which plays in the Northern Region Football League.

Peter grew up in Scotland playing football for local clubs. When he joined the fire service he was unable to continue playing football to any reasonable level due to his shift work hours so to continue being involved in the game he was passionate about, he got involved in coaching, and sat his coaching badges under the Scottish Football Association. Peter became involved with Dundee United initially as a community coach working in programmes across the Tayside region.

After a couple of years Peter then found himself promoted into coaching the Scottish Football Regional Development Squad. This role involved working with young players who had been released from professional clubs in Scotland but were looking to get picked up and signed by other pro clubs. “It was a good experience working with some really talented players who, for whatever reason, were not kept on by clubs at the end of their youth contract. We then worked with the squad in arranged games against other regions where the scouts from clubs came to watch the players involved.”

Peter’s philosophy on coaching is to develop players who are thinkers, technically proficient and have high standards and values, to ensure they are professional on and off the field. Peter also aims to create attractive football through technical and tactical player development. His aspirations for WaiBOP United is for the team to be successful on and off the field. “I want to create a team people will want to come and watch – a team who are champions both on and off the pitch.”

According to Peter, the main rewards of being a coach are interacting with the players and seeing them develop as footballers and also as individuals. Some of his recent coaching highlights were coaching the Waikato FC Youth squad to the semi-finals for the first time, a couple of seasons ago, as well as the successful season that he had at Tauranga City United around the same time. This role was cut to one season after a directive from New Zealand Football that Development Managers were unable to coach within the club environment.

The short-term goal for Peter is to ensure a successful year with WaiBOP United, while his long-term coaching goals are to bring footballing pride back to the Waikato Bay of Plenty region by challenging for the league title whilst continuing to increase his knowledge. He unashamedly admits to being a ‘student of the game’. Peter states: “You never stop learning the game. The day you think you know it all is the day you get left behind.”

Peter has embraced his ongoing learning. Earlier in the year he spending a week working with the New Zealand Breakers basketball team and their coaches Andre Lemanis and Dean Vickerman. Peter is also due to spend a week working with the A-League’s Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold in the near future.

Che Bunce – Assistant Coach

Che has experience playing professional football in Europe and Australasia and has recently set up the University of Waikato Football Academy to help develop the football skills of top players who are studying at Waikato University.

Che became a qualified coach 10 years ago when he worked for New Zealand Football and says: “The highlight of being a coach is seeing the players grow and improve.”

An important personal achievement for Che was getting the University of Waikato Football Academy up and running this year. The academy involves 13 young top quality footballers who study at the University of Waikato. The players train each morning at the academy and also play for clubs around the region. All Whites players and top New Zealand coaches have taken some of the academy training sessions. Che aims to develop these players to ensure they have every chance to succeed at a professional level.

Che’s philosophy on coaching is to ensure players are comfortable living on the ball. He likes players to be well rounded and smart. The short-term goals for Che are to continue being a development coach and develop the academy further. “I want to grow this into something better than what is available in America.”

Long-term, Che is aiming to coach internationally.