Usually by this time of the year, our local parks are full of young and not so young folk showing off their best moves in a variety of different sports, but this year due to Covid things have been different.
That’s not to say that things haven’t been happening behind the scenes and in some respects Director of Football at Franklin United Ben Fletcher, has been working even harder to bring to fruition what has to be the best news for youth football in the area since the inception of the club.
Ben, together with Marty Rodwell who is the driving force behind the South Auckland Elite Academy, have been instrumental in creating a squad of players starting from the 13th grade who will play in the newly constructed Northern Region football (AFF and NFF have combined) league under a Counties umbrella.
“This is a huge opportunity for our Youth players. The talent in our area is massive but so is our area, by uniting these two Academies, it means we can make sure we develop the very best of our players, coaches and referees and provide them with opportunities together that they perhaps would not ordinarily have playing at their club level,” says Ben.
The new league sees a Premier division and Conference Division running on a Sunday that pits the best teams from both Auckland and Northland in a round robin championship. By combining the two Academies who in turn have strong grassroots support from their member clubs Ben and Marty are confident that South Auckland will be a force to be reckoned with against some of the more highly rated clubs.
“We often have a group of players, or one of two in each age group that have the potential to develop into great footballers, and this happens in most of our clubs in South Auckland. As these players mature and grow, in the past the opportunities for them mean having to move to more centrally based clubs. They can also be lost to the game. The establishment of the Counties brand will allow us to retain our talent as it moves through the grades and competing in this competition means that those who want to travel down the footballing path are developed and challenged appropriately both collectively and individually,” says Marty.
This season, albeit somewhat shorter due to Covid, got underway in late June and the new Counties Brand fielded two Boys teams at Under 13 level, one Girls Team, and one each of Under 14 and Under 15’s.
So get in behind and support our local Footballers, and if you want to join them, check out their website for further information https://www.franklinunited.nz/ or email Ben on firstname.lastname@example.org