The chance to take on footballers from around the world was too good an opportunity to miss for the Tauranga City Relics.

The players, all aged between 40 and early 50s, have been training for the World Masters Games in Auckland twice a week since early February.

They are as fit as they have been for years and taking the challenge seriously.

"We are not going up there just to make up the numbers," said captain Rhys Bresnahan.


"I'm looking forward to see what sort of level these other teams are at. Hopefully we play a Brazilian team or a Ukrainian team just to really test how good we are. I think that's really exciting.

Team member Ian Gray adds an important addition to the conversation that sums up the spirit of Masters Games.

"It is important we have fun though. It is important that it is not too serious. We want to be competitive but it is going to be all the lads together having a good time and concentrating on what we love best, which is playing football," he said.

Team vice-captain Garry Board said being part of such a massive event was exciting.

"Just the sheer size of it and it being on the world stage means it is just fantastic to go up there and be part of it. It could be the only time in New Zealand for us in our career."

The impact on Auckland City and wider regions of more than 25,000 competitors and officials will be severe. Accommodation is in such short supply that the Tauranga City boys are staying at Wellsford - 77km from Auckland city - despite booking six months ago.

Much of the stress organising the team has been done with a ready smile by player-manager Dav Sheahan.

"As far as we know we are the first representative football team from Tauranga to play in a world event. We are really excited to put on a good show," he said.

"We have all played together for quite a few years for Tauranga City in an over-35 team. It is kind of our swansong. A lot of the boys are going to be retiring from football and we decided we would just push the boat out one more time and see if we can make a good stab at winning the World Masters."

Board said Sheahan had played a major part in getting them to the tournament.

"Dav's done brilliantly to get us there. He has put a lot of effort in behind the scenes and he wants to get out and play. I'm not sure about that though," he said laughing.

Tauranga City have two other New Zealand teams and one from Australia in the Men's B 40+ group four.

Sheahan said they were grateful to the support they have had from throughout the community.

"We have some great sponsors behind us. Rain Bar in Papamoa have sponsored our new kit we got imported from the UK, ASB and Cucumber software company amongst others."

Tauranga City Relics squad:
Rhys Bresnahan (capt), Garry Board (vice capt), Dav Sheahan, Ian Gray, Chris Prosser, Dion Bartosh, James Beale, Jason Estall, Craig Flowerday, Richard Gray, Corey Jones, Nick Pidgeon, Geoff Rickard, Huatahi Wislon, And Veal, Scott Pilcher, Dave Brown, Vladimir Calette, Andre Pratt.

World Masters Games, April 21-30, Auckland
The World Masters Games is the world's largest multisport event and held every four years.
The 9th World Masters Games in Auckland involves 28 sports and 45 disciplines with 26,000 athletes from more than 100 countries in the city for 10 days.
Most Masters sports have a minimum age of 35.