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The future

East Coast Bays AFC 4, Melville United 1
Bays City Park, Auckland, May 19 2012

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Another Saturday, another array of Northern Regional Football League matches to choose from! Today I decided to head up to the Northern limits of what we used to refer to as North Shore City in the old days, to watch second placed Premier League club East Coast Bays take on 8th placed Melville United.

Both sides were desperate for the points. Bays sat 6 points adrift of league leaders Bay Olympic going into the match and needed the win to stay in touch with the top. Although the season is still only just getting started, Melville will be beginning to get nervous about the potential for relegation. They also find themselves 8 points behind their local rivals Hamilton Wanderers. That won’t be sitting well with the outfit that boasts the bulk of the Waikato FC squad as well as the best coach in the region in Declan Edge.

As he did with Waikato FC, Edge has built this Melville side out of young local talent and sticks religiously to possession based football. Before the game he told me that his focus is on developing players over five or six years rather than a sixteen game season, an attitude he feels New Zealand Football has lacked to its detriment throughout its history. I agree.

Declan cops a lot of criticism for his leadership style and his youth focussed selection policies. Most of it is unfair in my opinion. For starters, there is a real paucity of others in the Waikato region prepared to step forward and do the jobs that he takes on with gusto. Secondly, it’s a bit of a contradiction to criticise his ego and his commitment to the long term at the same time. Surely if it was all about Declan, he’d be looking for quick success.

The Northern Regional Football League should not exist for people to seek glory from. Winning at this level should be celebrated but not pursued at all costs. This should be a development league that produces the next generation of players for the NZFC, the A-League and beyond.

Today was not as one-sided as the score suggests. In fact, it was a very even match to the point where some might argue Melville dominated for large spells. The future looks pretty bright to me.

Categories: NZ Northern Men'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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