Familiarity, quality coaching and desire were all vital ingredients of the Hawke's Bay-dominated Central team which won the national under-19 boys futsal title last weekend.
"We had the desire. We weren't the best futsal team there but we worked really hard," joint golden gloves winner Daniel Robinson said as he reflected on the Tai Barham-coached Central side's seven-game unbeaten run at the Palmerston North-hosted nationals which attracted 60 teams from the country's seven federations.
One of seven Bay players in the 10-strong Central team, Robinson, was thrilled to share the golden gloves award with fellow Central keeper Luke Bateman of Manawatu.
"It's my first golden gloves title. I missed out by one goal at the national secondary schools champs in Wellington in March when we finished second so it was good to get it this time."
Like captain Ethan Martin, Max Simcox and Josh Bowie, Robinson, played for the Napier Boys' High School football team which won their Super 8 tournament earlier this month. Like all of the Bay contingent which also included Luke Morgan, Ben Lack and Aiden Robson, Robinson, 17, will be eligible for the Central team next year. However, he could end up playing against them.
"I'm hoping to go to Otago University to study Health Science so it's more than likely."
Martin, 17, is in a similar situation as he intends to pursue tertiary studies in Waikato or Canterbury. Like several of his Central teammates, Martin, is hoping to be selected in the New Zealand under-18 boys team which will be announced next month.
He was full of praise for the "home town support" the Central team had in Palmerston North.
"Because we had three players from Manawatu we were treated like a home team," Martin said referring to the Manawatu trio of Bateman, Josh Scales and golden boot winner Jake Beseyni who scored 12 goals in their seven games.
Futsal White and Central Football HB National League team member Barham, 24, said there was an expectation within the squad they could capture the title because of their preparation.
"We travelled to Palmy regularly so we could all train together and the Manawatu trio also travelled over here which was good. I had all the time possible to pass on everything I have learnt to the boys to help them succeed."
"After finishing second as coach of the Napier Boys' High School team at the last two secondary school nationals it was good to finally win a title," Barham said.
He predicted several of the Bay contingent will crack the Central HB National League team which will open their campaign with a round in Taradale's Pettigrew-Green Arena on October 28 and 29.
Barham's troops beat CU Futsal Dragons (Mainland) 2-1, Capital Futsal 5-0, drew with Auckland Futsal 1-all, walloped South Futsal 9-1, Waikato Futsal 4-1 and Bay of Plenty Futsal 6-0 before drawing 2-all with Northern Futsal.
Four Hawke's Bay players, Maggie Brunton, goal keeper Samantha Anderson, Casey Ralph and Claudia Barham were in the Central under-19 girls team which finished third. One of five Taranaki players in the team, Tilly James, won the golden boot award for the grade.
Central were also represented by two under-12, 14 and 16 boys teams and one under-15 girls team in Palmerston North. More than 700 players from throughout the country were in action.