Footballers in Puhoi have the chance to play at an elite level with the establishment of a new men’s first team at the Puhoi Sports Club.
Nicknamed ‘the Harts,’ they will play in Division 1 in the Northern Football Federation (NFF) and compete in the Chatham Cup knockout tournament, with a view to make the NFF Conference in 2020.
Head coach Luke McIntyre says the new team gives something for upcoming grads to aspire to.
“We didn’t really have anything for these kids to step up to, so we were losing a lot of players to surrounding clubs,” McIntyre says.
The team is still looking for new players of any field position and McIntyre is calling on anyone from a footballing background to come down before the start of the season in three weeks.
Already the team has a core group of 17 players, many of whom have been playing in other leagues, including Northern, Hibiscus Coast and East Coast Bays, but now have an opportunity to play locally.
“We are looking for boys who want to stay on for more than one year and be a part of that,” he says.
The club’s first pre-season game against Millwater was a promising performance with a 4-1 win, despite not having a full-strength side.
However, a second game loss of 3-2 to Forrest Hill underscored the need for more players to back up the team.
“A few guys were away, so we were without substitutes. We had a 2-0 lead until the last 10 minutes before the legs gave in,” McIntyre says.
But the real test was the highly anticipated game on Saturday March 2 with the closely matched Tuakau Football Club.
“They are in the same division and have similar ambitions for the season as us, so it was always going to be interesting how things went.
“It was a high tempo match with nothing to separate the teams at the whistle, but a goal by Puhoi’s
Jacob Zussman was ultimately cancelled out by Tuakau scoring from a penalty in the last 10 minutes, resulting in a draw.”
McIntyre says the team has shown it can hold its own against an organised opposition and is looking forward to the season ahead.
The team trains at the Metro Park in Millwater every Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30pm and plays weekend games at the Puhoi Sports Club.
Keen players should contact Luke McIntyre at LukeKeeper@hotmail.com