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Forrest Hill Milford 9, Fencibles 0
Becroft Park, Auckland, April 7 2013

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Changes to this season’s Northern Women’s Premier League are aimed at reducing the number of score blowouts and thrashings that somewhat marred last season’s competition. All the sides will play each other once in a grading round before the twelve teams are split up and carry their points earned up to that point into a top and bottom six, with the top six playing for the trophy.

But the new format couldn’t stop new club on the block Forrest Hill Milford from recording a good old fashioned shellacking over Fencibles in today’s opening round.

Of the three new entries this year, Forrest Hill Milford is by far the most intriguing. Mauro Donoso, renowned coach of the back-to-back National Women’s League champion Northern Football Federation squad, has come to Becroft Park and brought with him a sizeable chunk of previously very strong Lynn Avon’s player roster including two current Football Ferns and several others who have represented New Zealand at age-group level.

This quality was lightning quick to shine through in pre-season action with 23 goals scored and only one conceded in three games and this head-turning beginning has generated much interest and speculation as to how a new club can burst onto the scene like this on day 1. Many have speculated, perhaps from a standpoint of enviousness, that this well-resourced club often rumoured to be bankrolled by a wealthy ‘sugar daddy’ has gone out and ‘bought the league’.

Certainly on paper the squad is impressive but in the ranks of amateur sport, phenomena like this are very common. It is hardly ever in my experience a result of buying titles in the sense that most people imagine it – by illegally paying players.

From my perspective as an outsider looking in, and I’m sure people will correct me if I’m wrong, players generally move around for three reasons. Because of a coach who they like or they know can help them perform at a higher level, because they want to play with their friends, and/or because of excellent facilities. The third reason is the way titles can legally be bought and paid for in the amateur game with moral impunity.

Given FHM had all three of those factors, it is the most likely explanation as to why they have built such a strong side on paper. The speed of this success should be no surprise when the majority of the better players have been playing together for years. It’s hardly a case of starting from scratch.

And if a club wants to put together a mixture of a good squad with good facilities and a top coach, should we be discouraging it? Only if we don’t want New Zealand women’s football to be strong. Because those three things together can only be helping to develop better players so let’s celebrate it, not knock it. If Forrest Hill Milford have the resources to ‘buy the league’ then my attitude towards it is ‘good for them’.

My only hope is they are not quite good enough to beat Claudelands!

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.

2 replies

  1. Good coaches are few and far between. Mauro is an excellent and proven coach, which is why he attracts young, enthusiastic and talented players. They have become accustomed to his style of coaching, which is open and free flowing.
    The girls enjoy training and love playing for him. The lack of women’s prem teams on the North Shore was a big draw as many of the players live that side of the bridge.
    To say there is a ‘sugar daddy’ behind the club is ridiculous. A lot of hard work has gone into making this team happen and thanks to that, the team have attracted good sponsors. Perhaps the writer of the article could take a few lessons out of Mauro’s book, if there were more coaches like him with good support from players, parents and club the league would be far more competitive and attract more females to football.

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