When Covid restrictions and resignations threatened the future of junior football at Port Albert, a group of Wellsford parents stepped up to the plate and reinstated a weekly competition that has proved just as popular.
The Rodney Otamatea Soccer Association (ROSA) president and committee resigned in February rather than enforce government restrictions and the Covid traffic light system, leaving the future looking bleak for kids’ footy at the time.
However, a group of parents got together, formed a new Wellsford club committee and set about getting games back at Port Albert.
The reformed and rebranded Wellsford AFC got around the table with clubs from Matakana and Kaipara and games were soon up and running again.
The season has since gone better than anyone expected, with more than 20 teams and 200 children currently playing in the competition.
A Wellsford AFC committee spokesperson said they had come a long way, given the season seemed in doubt after the resignation of previous Wellsford president Aaron Tipping, who served the club well over several seasons, as well as the effective dissolution of the soccer association.
“The comp has been the strongest it has been for a number of years in terms of players and we expect it to grow next year,” the spokesperson said.
The three clubs play 6th, 8th, 10th and 12th grade games in a 15-week competition, as well as a parallel tournament for Wellsford 12 to 18-year-olds.
During the season a coaching clinic was run with the help of Northland Football Federation, which was well received and had 17 coaches take part. In addition, Wellsford AFC managed to get sponsorship from local families and businesses to kit out players and coaches in team hoodies.
“The committees of the three clubs have really pulled together to make this season what it is and we’re looking forward to the coming years. We’re all happy and proud to be able to report on an amazing season so far,” the spokesperson added.