For many sports clubs, the struggle for survival is real. With resources spread thin, two Rotorua football clubs have decided the best way forward is an agreement to work together.
For years, Rotorua United and Ngongotahā AFC have been great rivals.
While their top sides have not played in the same league in recent years, the desire to be Rotorua's top club has always been strong.
However, a combination of potential players leading busy lives, teenagers leaving town for tertiary study and players opting to play for Hamilton or Tauranga clubs has seen both clubs struggle for player numbers.
They put their heads together after last season and have decided to take a more collaborative approach from 2020 onwards.
Rawiri White said when he was made Rotorua United chairman last year and his wife Sam the secretary, they, along with the rest of the club's committee, looked to "form a strategic direction for the club which met the local need".
"Our feelings on what should drive our purpose matched a key message within New Zealand Football; being footballer-centred. Early on in our involvement we identified the need to revitalise women's and girls' football - we were without a pathway for female players and knew there had been a strong female football history with the club and had talented youth female footballers coming through.
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"We could also see we had a strong talent pathway for youth male footballers but nowhere after this, so both of these areas were a priority."
It became clear that in an area such as Rotorua, it made sense to work collaboratively with all football stakeholders.
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"We looked back at what had been in the media about RUAFC and Ngongotahā and it was clear there was a long history of people from both clubs saying a similar thing; football in the area would benefit from the clubs working together.
"By the end of the 2019 winter season conversations were pointing to extending an invitation to meet with Ngongotahā. This initial meeting was very positive, a joint working group was formed and this led to a letter of intent being submitted to WaiBOP and a commitment by the two clubs to develop a memorandum of understanding for the 2020 winter season," White said.
The clubs have agreed that Rotorua United will take responsibility for the W-League and Bay 1 women's teams, and Ngongotahā FC will look after the Premier and Reserve men's teams, pooling players from the entire region together rather than having to fight for them.
The two clubs will assess how the relationship develops in 2020 and continue to work through how the collaboration should look longer term. A potential collaborative name has been mooted for teams under the collaboration in 2020 but nothing yet has been set in stone.
Ngongotahā AFC president Andrew Robb said meeting to discuss the players' needs throughout the whole district was a positive move for both clubs.
"We are delighted to make this progress as no doubt a combined effort will see benefits for all of us. We've felt for a long time that competing for the same players and coaches has meant that we have not achieved the best possible outcome for football in the area."
Krystal Davis, who was instrumental in re-establishing a Ngongotahā women's team and was part of the joint working group, said the collaboration was particularly exciting for the women's game because there was plenty of talent in Rotorua, the key was getting it all in one place.
"I think it's going to have a huge impact in terms of not fighting for the same resources. It will help to create a sustainable pathway for female football in general. We want to keep players here and stop them from going out of town.
"Ever since I started the women's team back up at Ngongotahā, it's been a bit of a struggle for numbers. I've got a few nieces and a daughter and I hope that them seeing not only myself play but the other older girls as well, shows them they can play too - it's not just for the boys."
Head coaches, assistant coaches and managers have been confirmed for both the W–League and Bay 1 women's teams and they will have new kits in colours which pay homage to the collaboration thanks to Lion Foundation funding. The head coaches will be able to attend a C Licence coaching course thanks to RECT funding.
Preseason trainings and player musters for the women's sides are being held at Neil Hunt Park from 3pm on Sunday, January 26 and 6.30pm Wednesday, January 29. Any women interested in playing are encouraged to attend.
The Ngongotahā men's teams are doing the same at 6.30pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.