The solution to a crowded season

By ANENDRA SINGH sports editor


Clubs v schools



SCHOOLBOYS should stage mid-week soccer matches to avoid playing two games on Saturday mornings.

That's the solution of Cru Bar Maycenvale United premier coach Ritchie Howard suggested towards solving Hastings' Boys' High School's dilemma.

"I understand why they are doing it and feel that way but it can be resolved by playing like the schoolgirls do," says Howard after HBHS sent a letter to parents of soccer-playing students, asking them to choose between playing for the school team in the Pacific Premiership this winter or footing it for a club.

Some Hastings secondary schoolboys and girls play for teams in Napier, too.

However, HBHS first XI coach and teacher Tony Simons, who initiated the plan that has fallen through, said Howard's suggestion was wonderful but not always do-able.

He says the school competes in mid-week Lotto play-offs.

"The games also go into darkness so it becomes very dangerous and can become a bit of a lottery," he says.

Some critics also question the HBHS choice of Havelock North Wanderers as a proposed club to affiliate with in Hastings.

They say Western Rangers, based at St Leonard's Park, also have clubrooms and appropriate facilities.

"Why aren't Havelock North club approaching their own high schoolboys?" a critic asks.

Rangers president Darren Austin says HBHS didn't consult them. "We've got facilities and clubrooms," he says, adding the HBHS plan would have affected a couple of players at their club if it had gone through.

Howard understands teenagers will have similar problems attending after-match functions in clubrooms as they do in public bars.

"I asked about it last year and the answer was 'no',' says the man who last winter coached a predominantly schoolboy side in the Pacific Premiership, Hawke's Bay men's most elite winter competition.

Under-age players have to be in the company of an adult family member at a pub.

"I offered, with my manager, to be a guardian for the functions but that didn't work either," he said.

Many clubs without a base opt to frequent pubs which can also double as sponsors.

While agreeing he wasn't sure of the intricacies of the law pertaining to bars and pubs, Simons understands clubrooms perhaps provide a better venue for after-match functions.

Howard, who says only two or three of his squad would have been affected if the HBHS plan had succeeded, says the school's letter of proposal seeking approval is domineering.

"It's hard for kids to make choices when they should be encouraged to simply enjoy the game at the age of 14 to 16."

Despite the impasse with schools, Central Football Eastern operations manager Phil Holt says he sends out feelers, via Sport Hawke's Bay, to schools to nominate players for representative honours.

In the new system, players do not have trials but simply qualify for a bigger training squad where they train and play matches before the cull for a Central side.

"It's all done in summer but the scouting is still done in winter," Holt says.

While Taradale AFC fielded two teams in last year's premiership, he says it won't happen again.

When the Western Premiership, incorporating mostly Taranaki, Palmerston North, Levin and Wanganui sides, wasn't part of the on-again-off-again Federation League the Jamie Hall-coached Taradale had to be accommodated in the 11th hour.

"We couldn't put a team of that strength in a lower grade for obvious reasons," Holt says of the strong outfit.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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