For 24-year-old sports scientist Aidan Wivell, football is more than just a passion. It’s also been his ticket to the inner sanctum of New Zealand’s sporting elite where he dreams of helping them succeed on the world stage.
The Sport and Exercise Science student, who recently submitted his Master of Science thesis at Massey University’s Auckland campus, also works full time at New Zealand Football as a sports scientist for the All Whites.
Born and bred in London, England, Mr Wivell moved to Auckland eight years ago, bringing with him his love of football. “Like most boys growing up in the UK, I wanted to be a professional player. Once I realised that wasn’t going to happen, sports science seemed an attractive route into the professional game.”
His research for his master’s thesis looks at monitoring fatigue in football – something he can put in to practice with the men’s national side.
The former Rangitoto College student says each stage of his study at Massey – undergraduate, honours and master’s – has been different, and posed different challenges, but it has all been worth it.
“I originally decided to study at Massey because of its convenient location and because it offered a Bachelor of Science degree, which was my preference.
“Once I started I knew I had made the right choice for me and I never considered going anywhere else for my postgraduate degree. A lot of this was thanks to the lecturers who understood my passion for football and provided opportunities for me to work in the sport.”
Through Massey, Mr Wivell secured a part-time internship with the All Whites last year, juggling his studies with his hands-on experience. Today he works with the team full-time, using his expertise in the sports science area every day.
“Our focus with the All Whites is to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, so I just want to play my part in helping the team achieve that goal.”
His role also involves regular international trips with the team. He was recently in Papua New Guinea as the All Whites won the Oceania Football Confederation Nations Cup, and is off to the United States of America on Saturday, where the team will take on Mexico and USA.
He’s keen to return to his English roots in the future. “It would be amazing to return to the UK one day and work with a top club over there. As a Chelsea fan, a position with them would have to be my dream job. That is still some way off though, so the focus now is purely on my role with New Zealand Football, helping the All Whites and age-group teams make the country proud on the world stage.”