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Don’t kick the ball

Fencibles United 0, Glenfield Rovers 15
Riverhills Park, Auckland, June 1 2015

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Ok, ok, that’s enough glitz and glamour for one weekend! It’s time to come back down to earth and the gritty reality of life in the New Zealand football scene. Where the grass isn’t always green, the sun doesn’t always shine, and there aren’t thirty pages of rules to read before you are allowed anywhere near the pitch! After the last couple of days, it was nice to be back in the relaxed suburban atmosphere that I love the most. Where the only rules for photographers are, as New Zealand Football’s media manager Steven Upfold describes them, “don’t kick the ball”.

Of course, that rule only applies when it’s in the field of play. When it’s outside the field of play it’s not so much that you can’t kick it as much as you are required to kick it because there’s no ball boy and you’re it! Definitely a far cry from the Under 20 World Cup, but by no means in a bad way. This is what I’m here to do, what I love doing, and have no intention of not doing just because I’ve got a fancier gig somewhere else.

So here I was at Riverhills Park to watch NRFL Women’s Premier cellar dwellers Fencibles take on one of the better sides in the league in Glenfield Rovers. At stake was a place in the quarter finals of the New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup. There was always only ever going to be one outcome, but I’m not sure anyone guessed quite what the scale of the slaughter would be. Nor did they imagine quite what an impression one particular striker by the name of Katie Rood would have on the occasion – and the record books!

How many first half hat-tricks do you see? Not many, if any? Well, Rood’s came in the 20th minute after her first two goals were scored in the 2nd and 8th! Never mind that though, how many times have you seen a player get SIX in the first half? I know I’ve never witnessed such a feat. But it happened today after Rood added goals in the 30th, 35th and 43rd minutes, and it didn’t stop there either!  She also netted in the 57th and 90th minutes to end the game with a phenomenal tally of 8 goals. Throw in two for Rebecca Burrows (29th and 33rd), a 49th minute penalty converted by Belinda Van Noorden, and single goals to Emily Oosterhof (51st), Victoria Bruce (55th), Liz Milne (71st) and Stephanie Skilton (85th). Phew!

I’d like to be able to say there was some kind of silver lining for Fencibles, or perhaps some mitigating factors, but I really can’t. The only real bright spot to mention came via the substitution of their keeper, around midway through the second half. When reserve goalie Paula Thompson came on, the tap was turned off somewhat as she pulled off quite a few very tidy saves. But apart from that… Let’s just say the Northern League Forum will no doubt be the scene for a full de-brief as we speak!

No matter though. While it might not have been the closest game I’ve ever covered, nevertheless after the weekend I’ve had and at the risk of sounding like my head is swelling somewhat, it was a real pleasure to be back in the friendly relaxed environment of grassroots football. Chatting to familiar faces and giving some media coverage, however modest it might be, to two teams who won’t be in any of the world’s major dailies tomorrow, is absolutely to my mind the most rewarding hobby there is.

Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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