Manukau Courier : January 25th 2011
23 MANUKAU COURIER, JANUARY 25, 2011 SPORT Festival draws overseas sides By ALAN APTED A five-day football festival with prize money worth $15,000 will open Centre Park s new $2 million club- house and 650-seat pavilion in Mangere next month. Ten teams -- four from Auckland, four from Fiji and two from Australia -- have signed up to play in the tour- nament starting on February 16. The winner will take home $8000. The event is being organised by the Mangere Centre Park Sports Associ- ation and is being tipped as one of the biggest tourn- aments of its kind in Auck- land, if not New Zealand. Football-mad members of Auckland s Fijian Indian community are abuzz with anticipation with thousands expected to attend over the five days of tournament. Organising committee chairman Ayaaz Khan says Auckland hasn t seen a tour- nament like it. We believe it s one of the biggest tournaments of its kind in Auckland and we plan to run it every two years, he says. The support we ve got from the teams and the public has been overwhelming. It s the talk of Auckland at the moment. People can t wait. Groups have even formed fan clubs to support the Fiji teams. The four Fiji teams are Ba, Lautoka, Nadi and Suva. They are provincial teams and are among the strongest in that country. Each will contain current and former Fiji representatives. Lautoka were fourth in Oceania Football s O-League Championship last year and are leading Group A in this year s. They will use the Centre Park tournament as a warm- up for their O-League fixture against Amicale, the New Caledonia champions in Noumea on February 26. The Auckland sides will be Rewa, Tavua, Lautoka and Nasinu, the four semifinalists from what is called the interdistrict tournament, an event that replicates Fiji s national interprovincial championship. The interdistrict tourna- ment is organised by the New Zealand Fiji Sports Associ- ation and the Mangere United Football Club, the two bodies that make up the Mangere Centre Park Sports Association. Australia s two teams are still being finalised. They were to have been their interdistrict finalists but the tournament was washed out, forcing a delay in the naming of the sides. Khan says Centre Park s new facilities launch a new era for the Fiji football com- munity in Auckland. Previously we ve had to hire out facilities like Bill McKinley Park in Mt Wel- lington to run our various tournaments. And when we used Centre Park we had to put up marquees and tents for spectators and teams. That s now a thing of the past. As well as being the home ground of Mangere United, Centre Park will become the headquarters of Fiji football in Auckland. The facilities -- the enclosed ground, the 650-seat pavilion, the clubhouse with a capacity to host up to 350 guests, and kitchen and dining facilities -- are among among the best in Auckland. Khan says no other football club in Auck- land has what they ve got. They now plan to approach the Oceania Football Feder- ation about hosting tourn- aments. We have the capa- bility, he says. The new facilities will be officially opened on February 12. Representatives from the New Zealand, Oceania Foot- ball Federation and the Fiji Football Federations will be among the guests of honour. Waka captain sets sail with Auckland team Special moment: Stan Conrad, left, is inducted into Auckland's Team 2011 by Buck Shelford. Photo: JAY FARNWORTH One of New Zealand s fore- most waka captains has been named as the 17th member of Auckland s Team 2011. Stan Conrad joined an exclusive group of Auck- landers who are being recognised for their contribu- tions to the Rugby World Cup when he was presented with a limited edition rugby ball by former All Blacks captain Wayne Buck Shelford. Conrad is the captain of the waka Te Aurere -- a new tour- ism venture that gives visitors a chance to experi- ence a traditional waka on Auckland s harbour. The waka is likely to be popular with the 85,000 international visitors coming to Auckland in eight months. It s about telling our story and allowing others the chance to see how the Poly- nesian people used to travel. It s all about people get- ting a hands-on sailing experience, Conrad says. The long-time rugby fan and coach of a girls rugby team says being made part of the Auckland team is a privi- lege and something he wasn t expecting. A person or group is being selected to join the team each month in the 24 months before the tournament kicks off in September. Team 2011 members will be involved in Auckland s opening festivities on Sept- ember 9. Intermediate school pupil Michael Blakesley was named as the second mem- ber.Warriors match shows solidarity for miners The league season kicks off on February 5 at Wingham Park in Greymouth with the Miners Solidarity charity game. The Vodafone Warriors have been back training since January 3 and will take on the Newcastle Knights, with half the gate-takings going to the Pike River mine disaster relief fund and the other half going to West Coast rugby. On the Friday night both teams will attend the West Coast Rugby League charity dinner in the Miners Hall at Shantytown where the New Zealand Rugby League will present former West Coast Kiwis with their dog-tags. The Knights and the Warriors will provide items for the auction on the night with all proceeds going to junior scholarships for league on the Coast so full marks to the both clubs and the NRL for making it happen. The NRL is picking up most of the costs which is an outstanding gesture. The Vodafone Warriors next trial is in Rotorua on February 12, kicking off at 5pm against Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney s team the Parramatta Eels, with the Junior Warriors playing a Wellington schoolboy rep- resentative team at 3pm. Then it is up to Whangarei on February 19 for a game at Toll Stadium at 5pm against the Burleigh Bears, a team that plays in the Queensland Cup, with the Juniors playing the Otahuhu Leopards, the 2010 Fox Memorial premiers. Then the boys continue their pre-season build-up with a visit to North Harbour Stadium to take on the Manly Sea Eagles whose boss is for- mer Kiwis coach Graham Lowe. The Juniors will take on the Auckland Vulcans who are coached by former Kiwi Richie Blackmore. Then of course we get to the real thing, the first game of the new NRL season and I am looking forward to it. We kick off the real season with our first official game of the year at Eden Park on March 12 at 7.30pm. We will be facing up to Kearney s Eels again and of course two of our new sign- ings, Krisnan Inu and Feleti Mateo, will play against their old club. Obviously I have a lot of time for Stephen but I hope he gets his bum kicked in this one. The boys will be at home again on March 27 against the reigning premiers, the Wayne Bennett-coached St George Dragons, and then we have a rare treat, a game against the Cronulla Sharks that will be played in Taupo. That s a great chance to squeeze in another game because it is an away fixture, with the Sharks opting to bring a game over here. I can t wait.
January 21st 2010
January 27th 2011