Soccer: Curtain raiser poses sense of emergency

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

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Rotorua police team captain Mike Kelly (right) and Rotorua Fire Service team captain Tony Whyte will face off as part of a curtain raiser match for the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua police team captain Mike Kelly (right) and Rotorua Fire Service team captain Tony Whyte will face off as part of a curtain raiser match for the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday. Photo / Ben Fraser

It may not be the biggest match-up of the day, but the Rotorua police and Rotorua Fire Service won't be holding anything back when they curtain raise for the All Whites in Rotorua.

The Wellington Phoenix versus New Zealand-based All Whites match on Sunday at the Rotorua International Stadium is set to make history.

It is the first time the Phoenix have played a match in Rotorua and the first time in 31 years an All Whites side has played in the city.

However, for members of the Rotorua Fire Service team and Rotorua police team it will just be a return to the old battle field.

"We are friends off the field but not on the field," Rotorua Fire Service team captain Tony Kelly said.

"We have got a big trophy which we usually play for annually, we didn't do it last year as guys were getting older but we jumped at the chance this year to have a crack at it."

The police currently hold the un-named trophy which has been contested for at least six years.

The emergency services curtain raiser match kicks off at 10.15am at the Rotorua International Stadium on Sunday, with the feature game between the Phoenix and All Whites kicking off at 2.30pm.

The winners of the emergency services game will take home the cup.

"I don't know what will happen if it is a draw, it might go straight to penalties," Kelly said.

Rotorua police team captain Mike Whyte said they were looking forward to the challenge.

"It is very social, but there is always a bit of sledging, just like all professional sports."

He said the police side had not been doing too much training for the game, other than pondering their previous victories.

The match-up is part of the inaugural Holiday Inn Rotorua Football Festival which begins tomorrow and concludes with the Phoenix game on Sunday afternoon.

Highlights of the weekend festival include a children's football tournament at Puarenga Park tomorrow, where players from the Phoenix and All Whites will interact with the public in three-on-three matches.

A training session will also be held tomorrow afternoon at the Rotorua International Stadium, which is also open to the public.

Organisers said they were expecting about 5000 people to the feature match on Sunday, which includes two curtain raisers - the emergency services game and a women's Federation Cup match between Rotorua United and Cambridge.

Tickets to Sunday's match $7.50 children and $15 adult.

Tomorrow
9am: Children's football tournament at Puarenga Park.
10am: Phoenix and All Whites players attend tournament at Puarenga Park, playing in 3 x 3 games.
1.30pm: New Zealand-based All Whites open training session at Rotorua International Stadium.
3pm: Wellington Phoenix open training session at Rotorua International Stadium.

Sunday
10am: Gates open at Rotorua International Stadium.
10.15am: Curtain raiser _
Rotorua Police v Rotorua Fire Service.
11.45am: Curtain raiser _ Rotorua United Women v Cambridge Women.
2.30pm: Wellington Phoenix v New Zealand-based All Whites.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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