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A Good Friday for Claudelands

Papamoa FC 0, Claudelands Rovers 11
Gordon Spratt Reserve, Papamoa, April 6 2012

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It’s Easter 2012, and what better way to spend Good Friday than to watch some Northern Regional Football League – Women’s Premier action? The top level of Women’s club football in New Zealand was entering its second week yesterday, but Papamoa FC, who had the bye last week, were on their first outing of the year with a young and inexperienced team. Much of last season’s squad departed the Bay of Plenty club in the offseason, leaving some considerable doubts as to whether they would again field a women’s team at all, let alone in the top flight. Thankfully, they were able to get a good group of players together, but with the youngest only 14 years of age, it will take a while before they find their feet at this level.

They couldn’t have struck a more difficult opponent first up. Claudelands from Hamilton boast three New Zealand internationals, all be it with one of them, Holly Patterson, unavailable having only just returned from Papua New Guinea where two days prior she was helping the Football Ferns qualify for the London Olympics. Of the two remaining, Olivia Chance was in devastating form yesterday, slotting five of Rovers’ 11 goals. The other, Sarah McLauchlin, had a relatively quiet day, only(!) finding her way onto the score sheet once…

It was a clinical and merciless performance from Claudelands but also a brave and gutsy effort from Papamoa – they never stopped trying and I’m looking forward to seeing them in action later on in the season to see if they improve as I know they can.

A couple of bouquets to finish – firstly to Papamoa for having a match-day programme containing an accurate team-sheet! You don’t often, if ever, get that at women’s club football in New Zealand and it’s a great sign that the club takes its women’s side seriously. The fact that they have a female club president in Barbara Caie, probably holds a clue as to why. Great to see. The second bouquet goes to referee Sarah Walker for whom I understand this was her first premier match. From what I could tell she did an outstanding job and seemed to be thoroughly enjoying herself. Refereeing is always a thankless job. They cop a lot of moronic abuse from people who should know better, especially in this country where the game is amateur. We should all pay tribute to their commitment to the game whenever we can. We wouldn’t have a game at all without them. Well done Sarah, and also to her assistants Nadia Browning and Andrew McAllister.

Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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