Football coaching staff creating a buzz as they build teams, support and enthusiasm.

To understand how far Mt Roskill's First XI football side have come, you need to understand the events of 2012.

They were on the brink of relegation to the Senior A3 grace, the fourth tier of Auckland schoolboys' football. Boys were still keen on the game, but it needed a spark.

The First XI drew that vital game with Long Bay, stayed up in Senior A2 and Callum Christopher, who was coaching junior teams, decided to take action. He engaged Maksim Manko, an old boy who had played professionally in Costa Rica and Argentina, as First XI coach. The pair have worked hard to create the right culture and build up Mt Roskill's football resources to the point where they have nine boys' and three girls' teams in 2016. They make good use of the Being Roskill programme, which is promoted via social media. There is a sense of community involvement and engagement, which means the First XI draws crowds upwards of 300-400 each Saturday.

"The goal has always been to get back to the premier league. They have worked hard and intelligently towards that," says Manko. And he is not just hoping to make up the numbers in the eight-team league.


"It's very competitive and it's hard to know exactly what to expect until you have played a couple of games in the league. But I've set a goal for them to win the championship," says Manko. "I believe that's possible."

A top-four berth is also a goal, as that would qualify them directly for the top national schools Lotto tournament.

Manko is working with a good mix of the young (Years 9-10) and more seasoned (Years 13-14), with some coming back to school to have a crack at the premier league. Hard work and fitness, but also fun, are bywords. In 2015 there were 14 different nationalities among the squad.

The First XI is a source of pride for the school. Hockey has a strong culture and competes in premier grade, but football is the only other major team sport which competes in Auckland premier grades.

"We have a good mix and we know there will be players coming through. Callum works hard on the junior side of the programme," Manko says. Both men have good contacts through Latin America and the likes of Brazilian Julio Cesar plays for the school.

Christopher would like to see Mt Roskill Grammar's First XI become a team many in the diverse Mt Roskill community want to follow. He envisages something akin to a neighbourhood club in Brazil. In the meantime, over to the players to show their wares.

This Friday, Mt Roskill Grammar will travel to fellow newly promoted school St Peter's for a 6pm kickoff.