Bay Olympic 1, Metro FC 5
Crum Park, Auckland, May 5 2012
This is not a blog post about football at the highest level in New Zealand. It’s about much bigger heroes than you’ll find there. This is about people who purely and simply love football.
People who have given up to 30 years and more to sport in this country without the recognition they deserve. They coach kids. They volunteer for working bees at their clubs. They sit on committees. They fundraise. Not only have they never received a cent for their services, but they have paid many thousands of dollars in subs over the years for the privilege of contributing to their communities. The money they put into the game not only funds the competitions they play in, it funds the glamour teams their clubs put out, it funds the Northern Regional Football League, it funds the NZFC and it funds the All Whites. Without them, we would have nothing.
This is the Auckland Football Federation over 35’s Division 3 Central/West – this is real grass roots football. Every Saturday in parks up and down New Zealand tens of thousands of football enthusiasts like these guys lace up their boots and prop up our game.
Nobody in this match has ever made a rep side. Most of them have never expected to. They play for the love of the game, the fitness it brings and the cold beer afterwards.
Metro – top of the table. Played three and won three. Bay Olympic’s ‘Westies’ – won one, drawn one and lost one. There is no promotion or relegation at this level. Metro are in that awkward space where they are too good really for division three but would probably get beaten every week in division 2. But nobody minds the score blow-out. Bay gave a good account of themselves defensively in the game but as the older bodies tired late in the second half, the goals started going in.
One player I talked to was wearing a pedometer. He came off with 5 minutes of regular time remaining having taken 9119 steps, covered 6.38 kilometres and burnt 533 calories from right back. A good workout in anyone’s language – especially considering I struggled breathlessly just walking up the hill to the park…
At one point, there was a pileup of players with the ball buried in it somewhere and nobody knew who had put it out. Instead of arguing about it, the two sides talked it through and decided between themselves whether it was a corner or a goal kick.
There was plenty of nice banter back and forth between the two sides, players and officials, players and spectators, players and their own teammates. There were no yellow cards in the game. I don’t think the refs (substitutes from the two sides taking turns with the whistle) owned one.
Laughter, fun and fair play, motivated by little but the love of a good old kick around for its own sake. This is the way football was invented to be played.
Categories: Other Football Topics
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.