ONE of the key figures in youth football in Fife is leaving his post to take up a new challenge in New Zealand.
Gordon Forrest has been appointed the Football Development Manager for the Northern Federation of the New Zealand FA in a combined role that has also landed him a coaching position with the country’s Under 20 Women’s team.
Forrest (34) was approached by the head of football development in New Zealand, John Herdman, whom he met at a coaching course in Newcastle, to become part of what has been described as New Zealand’s ‘football revolution’.
And he waved goodbye to Fife yesterday (Wednesday) as he flew out with his young family to their new home near the city of Auckland.
“Their main sport is obviously rugby, but the country is totally buzzing with football right now,” Forrest told SportsPress.
“They had a very good World Cup in South Africa, managing to return home unbeaten after three draws in the group stages.
“On the back of that, they have now rolled out this plan that involves appointing seven managers to oversee different areas, and I was asked if I would be interested in being one of them.
“I will be responsible for rolling out this plan, managing the football development of the area, and creating new programmes.
“I have a wife and three young kids aged four, two and 12 weeks so it’s a massive change for the family and it’s been a stressful time since I was offered the job in January, but now I’m ready for it.
“I’ve enjoyed my role with the SFA here, but this was an opportunity I couldn’t really turn down. Their plan for football development is fantastic, and I’ll be involved in coaching the women’s under 20 team at the upcoming World Cup in Uzbekistan, which is great for the CV.
“New Zealand is also hosting the under 20 Men’s World Cup in 2015 – the second biggest event in football behind the World Cup itself.
“Their football is growing so much so that all the country’s sports personality awards at the turn of the year were won by footballers. I think the rugby world got a wee shock at that!”
Forrest, who hails from Dunfermline, has been involved in professional football since leaving school to sign a YTS contract with Raith Rovers.
He made my debut against Celtic, and played in the club’s UEFA Cup game in the Faroe Islands. The midfielder moved to Millwall with Nicholl in 1996 but, like his manager, he failed to settle and quickly returned to Scotland for spells at Livingston, East Fife and Berwick Rangers.
He also enjoyed a spell playing in Iceland, where he made his second UEFA Cup appearance, playing against Belgian giants Anderlecht.
He retired early to concentrate on coaching, and landed a role as an SFA Football Development Officer in Fife, a post he has held for the past four years.