A football tournament which has been Napier's biggest annual sports tournament for more than four decades managed to go ahead in a limited format and ended with two finals on Monday at Bluewater Stadium, Park Island.
The Napier City Rovers Under-19 National Youth Championship girls' final went to extra time with Petone beating FC Nelson 1-0 and the boys' final was an all-Wellington affair, with North Wellington beating Wellington Olympic 3-2.
The tournament, first held in 1976, usually caters for 68 teams, with others waiting to get in, but this year started on Saturday with just 13 in the boys' draw and eight in the girls'.
Operations manager and former multiple time tournament player Chris McIvor said the club worked with the Napier City Council "to get the tournament over the line" and it went ahead in strict level 2 conditions, including having only six of the usual 12 Park Island pitches in use. This was in order to allow greater spacing, and with requirements that teams were only able to be at the park for their own matches.
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The tournament had "gathered its own momentum" over the years as a popular end-of-season destination for players and families, but this year the pandemic resulted in the absence of the Auckland and Waikato clubs – unable to travel due level 3 restrictions in their regions.
Other teams withdrew closer to the start date, but there was still a team from Christchurch United. Also, in keeping with the nature of the annual Labour Weekend pilgrimage to Napier over the years officials, while mainly from the area of the Central Soccer Federation, came from as far as Timaru.