WaiBOP's 2018 senior football season gets under way today with teams from across the region set to renew battle after a long off-season.

The area's leading leagues, the Loaded WaiBOP Premiership and WaiBOP Championship, sit just below the Northern Region Football League (NRFL) in importance and look to be open and competitive competitions in 2018.

In the Premiership, no side stands out as obvious title favourites, which adds to the intrigue for local fans as they start debating who will secure Cambridge's crown.

Waikato Unicol, Otumoetai, Tauranga Blue Rovers (previously Old Blues), Melville United and Matamata Swifts have been there or thereabouts over the last few seasons and will be expected to be in the mix again.

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If Taupo, West Hamilton and Te Awamutu, who all had good runs last season, can find a touch more consistency they will be in with a good shout.

Two of last season's lower placed sides, Tauranga Boys' College and Papamoa, should also make progress. The students took points off some of the leading teams last season while Papamoa, who gained a relegation reprieve after losing all 22 games in 2017, have recruited well and will be much nearer the other end of the table come the final wash-up.

The two promoted clubs, Tokoroa and Hamilton Wanderers, also look interesting prospects in what should be one of the most balanced Premiership campaigns in years.

A slightly compressed, ten team Championship features a good balance of teams.

Promoted Ngaruawahia United and Kawerau Sports and Te Puke United are the three 1st teams in the league. They are joined by teams from two NRFL clubs (Tauranga City and Cambridge) and five Premiership reserve teams (Waikato Unicol, Otumoetai, Tauranga Blue Rovers, Matamata Swifts and Taupo).

The local Waikato and Bay of Plenty men's and women's leagues also kick off this weekend. The Waikato and Bay of Plenty women's teams will begin the season playing locally, before the top teams join to form a regional competition to finish 2018.

Loaded WaiBOP Premiership
April 7, home team first

Mercury Tokoroa AFC vs Tauranga Blue Rovers FC
Tauranga Boys' College vs Melville United
Hamilton Wanderers vs Papamoa FC
Te Awamutu vs Taupo AFC
Otumoetai FC vs Waikato Unicol
West Hamilton United vs Comag Matamata Swifts

WaiBOP Championship
Otumoetai Reserves vs Waikato Unicol Reserves
Te Puke United vs Tauranga Blue Rovers Reserves
Cambridge vs Kawerau Sports
Tauranga City vs Taupo Reserves
Ngaruawahia United vs Matamata Swifts Reserves

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