Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

NZSS Football tournament underway at Papamoa

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Brilliant goals, yellow cards, missed penalties and hundreds of teenagers who would love to be the next Winston Reid are all on show this week in the best line-up of secondary school teams to play football in Tauranga.

The NZSS Football Boys' Lotto Premier Tournament had attracted the top 32 schools from throughout New Zealand at the week-long tournament under way at Gordon Spratt Reserve in Papamoa.

The national event was part of the winter tournament week involving multiple sporting tournaments throughout New Zealand.

It was down to the vision of tournament controller Scott Furness, teacher in charge of football at Tauranga Boys' College, that it had finally made it here.

"I put a proposal together to New Zealand Secondary School Football more than a year ago saying I would like to organise it and have it here because the top tournament of the best 32 teams has never been here.

Satellite tournaments have been here most years," Furness said.

"I put up my hand and volunteered. Leigh Perry who also lives in Tauranga is a New Zealand Secondary Schools Football administrator and so she has done all of the draws and makes sure that everything behind the scenes like the programme is all organised.

"My role was to get the fields sorted out, liaise with the (Tauranga City) council around ground markings and organise the facilities that the players needed for the week.

"We had two fields that were rugby league fields and one other that needed to be changed into football fields. We wanted eight pitches but we only managed to get six because there is just not the supply of portable goals around this city.

"There has been a fair amount of work. I love organising. I love the pressure of it."

Furness had called on his experience running the junior Hillsdene Trophy tournament hosted by Tauranga Boys' in June.

"That is something that takes a fair amount of organisation as well. There is a little bit more of a step-up for this.

"New Zealand Secondary Schools sport and football are quite keen to see that Hillsdene Tournament move into tournament week and be a Year 9 and 10 football tournament rather than where it is in June."

To find the 32 teams competing this week a comprehensive qualifying process was held throughout New Zealand's football regions.

Tauranga Boys' College needed a wild card to play in the top 16 this week, as Hamilton Boys' and St Peter's of Cambridge were the top two qualifiers from the WaiBOP region.

But Tauranga Boys' missed the top eight after a frustrating lack of precision in front of goal which means they were playing off in the Bowl section with ninth the best possible outcome.

"They will be happy to still be in contention for that ninth spot and that is what their target is now," Furness said.

"They had a hard pool to get out of with Mt Roskill, Palmerston North Boys' and Wellington College."

The main final was scheduled for 1pm tomorrow on field 6.

Results: www.nzssfootball.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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