Soccer: Hawke's Bay United coach says burnout meant time out

By Anendra Singh

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HOME SWEET HOME: Hawke’s Bay United soccer coach Chris Greatholder enjoyed his almost month-long break with wife Kate and children Ruby, Molly and Harry just before Christmas before resuming next Sunday.
HOME SWEET HOME: Hawke’s Bay United soccer coach Chris Greatholder enjoyed his almost month-long break with wife Kate and children Ruby, Molly and Harry just before Christmas before resuming next Sunday.

A Rejuvinated Chris Greatholder says burnout from performing three roles prompted the need for a break.

The Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United soccer coach is back at the helm to resume the franchise team's campaign in round eight of the ASB Premiership the following weekend.

In fifth place on the ladder but just two points adrift of leaders Waitakere United, the Bill Robertson-captained Bay play newcomers Wanderers Soccer Club at North Harbour in a 3pm kick off on Sunday, January 12.

"My role at Hawke's Bay United is 12 months a year.

"It's not just as the season's started when it's three games old. I started the season when it was seven months old," Greatholder says soon after returning to work as TSB manager in the region.

It was difficult but he had informed his playing group the Team Wellington game was going to be the last one for a couple of weeks at least.

The Bay lost 2-1 in Napier on December 1 and rumours were rife that he had spat the dummy but the board rectified his position.

It had "nothing to do" with losing to Team Wellington at Park Island.

"The board could have acted in a different way but instead they supported me."

Watching the next two games on the live feed on the website was "a horrible, horrible experience".

In his absence, the Bay drew 2-2 with Waitakere, pipped Canterbury United 1-0 and drew 4-4 with Auckland City.

"Results have been good since I've been gone so I'm really pleased to take over again where I'd left off in the new year."

Quitting all together did cross his mind although it was a "hard one".

"At one stage it was an option. I'm a busy man but I don't want to play a martyr or get the violin out.

"I've got three young children and a wife at home and I've got a responsibility as a bank manager," he says, adding the Bay United coaching role is a fulltime one.

"They don't need me there fulltime but it's a big role.

"It's three jobs in one so I guess I needed some time to breathe and sort of rest to get some energy back."

Some nice comments from the Bay soccer community have left him humbled.

"I got some texts of support and the playing group have been fantastic with each one of them taking some time out to contact me."

His coaching stable and the franchise board also got behind him.

"I'm thankful and grateful for that. I have no doubt that's the break I needed so I feel really good about coming back in to create something special over the next two months."

Throughout winter he spent time in Auckland, Wellington and Palmerston North recruiting players.

"I would rather have not had the time off. I just felt it was necessary at the time and in the best interests of the football club and my family that I take it."

It was a case of putting stop-gap measures rather than making wholesale changes.

Greatholder, in his previous season, had disclosed he was dealing with a bout of jangled nerves. He reveals a "little bit of that did come back".

"I think that's just a passing thing and a sportsman's thing.

"If I didn't get nervous before games then I'd be too much in my comfort zone there."

He had started enjoying the way they have been playing, going into games a lot more relaxed and comfortable than his first season at the helm.

"I can't remember the last break I had or if I've ever had one.

"It's given me time to put a lot of things in perspective to plan my life around work and Hawke's Bay United."

He has prepared "session plans" for the soccer team going into the new year with the premiership.

"I'm very hopeful we'll be creating some history this time around and it'll be champions to ASB Premiership in three to four months," says the man who helped create history last summer in coaching Bay United to their maiden playoffs in the premiership's nine seasons of existence.

Assistant coach Perry Cotton had done well and the lads bonded, too, to realise "it's them against the world, almost".

"We're in our own tight-knit group there, including the board and the support staff getting together to put their arms around each other. It got them tighter than they probably were after a couple of battling draws and a win over Canterbury United at home."

Greatholder says it's good to keep the team ticking.

"It's the nature of the league so it's really great where you can celebrate each three points with merit."

Wife Kate, he jokingly reveals, was ready to kick him out of their Havelock North house.

"It was a great little Christmas period where you could enjoy things that make life enjoyable."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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