By Steve Browning
The thing that’s struck me since we went public with our North Shore City bid is the speed and sincerity of the support that’s swung in behind our vision of bringing national league football back to the North Shore.
Naturally, those who remember the national league exploits of Takapuna and North Shore United – 51 and 128 years old respectively – are excited but it’s beyond our own membership where the support excites us.
Other North Shore clubs have sent messages of good luck while a common theme when talking to neutral football fans in other parts of the country is that it “makes sense” to have a team in an area with one of New Zealand’s largest player bases and with a general population about the size of Wellington and Dunedin combined.
At local government level, the council have pledged support for our plan to transform Taharoto Park, which already boasts arguably the best playing surface north of the Harbour Bridge, into a boutique ground of which the league and our fans will be proud. Fencing will be added, floodlights installed and grandstands moved from Allen Hill Stadium while that facility undergoes a multi-million dollar makeover.
It’ll be a fantastic venue that’s close to public transport, the motorway and Takapuna’s bars and restaurants. Just as importantly it won’t be in an existing ASB Premiership club’s backyard but in an untapped market for fans and corporate support.
Most significantly, the backing of Northern Football has added real momentum to our cause and emphasises that this venture is for the whole North Shore region.
A Memorandum of Understanding with a club’s local federation is now mandatory for all ASB Premiership clubs and I believe we may be the first of the bidders to tick that box.
New Zealand Football have been championing this sort of integration when signalling the expansion of the league and its realignment with other aspects of the sport at grassroots level.
“The ASB Premiership is the connection point between our thriving grassroots base in the Whole of Football programme and our elite international teams operating under the Beyond Football Plan,” said NZF Community Director Cam Mitchell back in September.
A month later in announcing the outcome of the competitions review and calling for expressions of interest, NZF emphasised the need of clubs to “align to the strategic vision and requirements we need.”
“Our intention is to foster the creation and development of clubs which are superbly run, sustainable hubs for the game where our most talented players, coaches, referees and administrators can thrive and see a clear pathway to the top of the sport.”
North Shore City is well placed to complete this pathway for the thousands of aspiring players this side of the Harbour Bridge whose opportunities are bottlenecked at national league or national youth league level.
Our two foundation clubs, Takapuna and North Shore United have been delivering Whole of Football Programmes since they were introduced. We have partnerships with local high schools and North Shore United recently was awarded the Quality Club Mark, a process NZF have also indicated would be introduced for ASB Premiership clubs.
We have more qualified coaches than anyone on the Shore and I’d wager more than most clubs in Auckland and even some federations. Seventy of our coaches have gone through NZF programmes in the last 12 months alone.
A national league license would be a ringing endorsement for club and federation alignment from top to bottom and would clear a pathway for a host of Northern Football Federation talent.
North Shore City has the right structures, a player pool starved of opportunities and the backing of our federation that allows us to deliver outcomes for the largest area not currently served by an ASB Premiership club. We offer a strong, stable and sustainable option for expansion.
A long, proud and decorated national league history on the North Shore has been put on hold for the last decade or so. The time, and crucially, the reasons are right to reprise it.
[This is the second in a series of guest posts from bidding entities stating why they would make great ASB Premiership clubs. If you are bidding for a spot and would like to participate in this feature, e-mail me via casagiordani at orcon dot net dot nz – I have already been in touch with some but don’t have contact details for everyone. I’m not leaving you out on purpose! 🙂 ]
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.