Football: Shake up to show players path to the top

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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Football is on the move in Bay of Plenty with three new leagues on offer in 2013.

The new leagues, established under the WaiBOP Football Federation, include an U13-boys, U14-girls and Over-35 (social) competition.

Rotorua United and Ngongotaha Football Club will combine for the first time to enter joint teams in the new youth competitions.

The U13-boys and U14-girls competitions will be played on a Sunday, giving youngsters an opportunity to bridge from junior football to youth football.

The three competitions will be Bay of Plenty and Waikato-wide, with games expected to start in May.

Players in the new leagues will have the chance to train through coaching clinics set up for Rotorua footballers.

Another move has also been announced by WaiBOP, which will support these player pathways.

Waikato FC, who compete in the country's top amateur league the ASB Premiership, will be making a partnership with WaiBOP Football Federation for the 2013/2014 season.

The club need to re-apply for their licence in the ASB Premiership next year and have looked to partner with WaiBOP for their future bid.

Waikato FC is the only national league team representing the area, and the club was established in 2004.

The club is currently struggling with volunteers and hopes creating better connections with the area will help strengthen their future.

WaiBOP chairwoman Patsi Davies said they were working alongside Waikato FC to ensure an ASB Premiership team stays within the region.

"Currently Waikato FC and the federation are working to meet the New Zealand Football requirements for the licence approval of a new franchise to be called WaiBOP United."

She said as the name suggests, the geographical area of the franchise will now include the Bay of Plenty. "This will provide important opportunities for player development and engagement with all of our stakeholders."

Waikato FC have also looked to WaiBOP for players this season. In a recent release on the WaiBOP Football Federation website, Waikato FC asked local players to consider joining their squad for the rest of the ASB Premiership. "Following recent events, Waikato FC currently has a squad of just 15 players but must contest two further matches before the transfer window opens on January 14," the website said. "Waikato FC is inviting expressions of interest from players who believe they are capable of playing at ASB Premiership level."

Under league rules Waikato are able to add a further two players to their roster for a home match against Auckland City on January 6 and an away match against Hawke's Bay on January 13.

Please forward expressions of interest to waikatofc@xtra.co.nz.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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