Coaches Programme Comments

Photo: from NZ Football

Welcome everyone to today’s fourth-round match against Tasman United. In particular, I want to welcome a very good friend of mine, Andy Hedge, and his team to Trust Stadium. Andy and I have had the pleasure of working together for many years during our tenure as coaches of the NZ U20 team and a lot of wonderful memories were gained during that period. I have the utmost respect for Andy’s talent and ability as a coach and I am expecting a really torrid game as both teams look to gain the three points on offer.

Trust Stadium is the best playing surface in the country in the ISPS Handa Premiership and we are rightly proud of the quality we offer for opposition teams and coaches to compete on. NZ Football has very strict criteria as to what is acceptable and not acceptable in the Premiership and these criteria should be enforced as we all look to improve the standards of our flagship competition.

Over the first 3 rounds, we have started slowly with only one win acquired. Our last home performance was curtailed by the concession of a really early penalty against the Oceania Champions and meant we were playing catch-up from almost the first whistle. The team really are improving from week to week as evidenced by our 5-1 win last week against the Wellington Phoenix. That is a team that will give a lot of teams a hurry up as they do have some really talented younger players playing.

Interestingly we started 4 players under 19 last week with an additional U19 player on the bench. We all have to be careful when we call teams youngsters as the league in NZ is starting to provide serious opportunities for talented younger players. I have always been against the “manufactured” scenarios that many espouse with rules like you must have 8 under-19 players in your squad etc. This dilutes the quality and also provides an easy pathway for younger players often to the detriment of their own development. The saying you are old enough when you are good enough should always be the rule we all agree to and in that way regardless of age when they make the team they will have made it on their own without any rules helping them get there.

Tasman United are to be congratulated with their focus to be on players from within their region to play in the Premiership. It may take time but eventually, the focus on “local” talent will pay huge dividends for the franchise and the Tasman region. I really do admire what they are doing and wish them all the very best for the future.

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