National league football bid to get go-ahead

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A bid for a full national league football team is likely to get the official backing from the region’s governing body for the first time, at a meeting tonight.

Nelson has had a team in the ASB National Youth League for three years, but the team is run privately and without financial support from Nelson Bays Football, which is the governing body for the sport in Nelson and Tasman.

But New Zealand Football is changing the structure of their national competition, meaning only bids involving a senior men’s side as well as a youth league team will be accepted.

This puts football in Nelson at a cross-roads: either enter a team for both competitions or lose national competition altogether.

The latter seems to not be an option. The Nelson Falcons are the current national youth league champions and Nelson College is the current national secondary school champion.

To not have a pathway for the talent the region is producing seems a total waste of coaching and development.

Nelson Weekly understands that a working group has been set up to investigate the sustainability of a full national league bid and it’s already come up with a team name – Tasman United.

The group involves members from the region’s largest clubs, a committee member of the Falcons and representatives from Nelson Bays Football.

Those investigations have been overwhelmingly positive, says working group member Mark Sheehan.

“Buy-in has been great, people like the idea and corporate partnerships are already being developed. This is a really positive step and it is involving everyone, not like past attempts that have been just a few guys around a table,” he says.

A report from the working party will be presented to members of the Nelson Bays Football district executive tonight and chairman John Armstrong says the mood around the table is positive.

“I’m confident that the DE [district executive] will vote to submit a bid and I’m confident because the working party have done such a thorough job in putting the bid together. It has support of stakeholders and the work so far has been very impressive,” he says.

If NBF do support the bid, and it is accepted by New Zealand Football, it will give the team access to resources and money that were unavailable to the Falcons. It will also come with backing from Mainland Football, which sits as the governing body between NBF and New Zealand Football.

Some games of the proposed ten-team national competition will be televised and a Nelson bid seems to fit well with NZF’s desired mix of three South Island teams. The other two are likely to be Canterbury and Otago, which compete in the current national league.

The Tasman United concept has already gained support from the region’s greatest football player, Jeremy Brockie.

“Let’s help bring back the glory days and secure the future for young and up-and-coming talented footballers,” he wrote on his Facebook page about the bid.

John says now is the best time to bid, on the back of the region’s success in the youth league and secondary schools competition.

“As a region, we’re performing well and there’s no doubt some of that is due to the Falcons. We probably wouldn’t be at this point [of entering a bid] if if wasn’t for the Falcons and their success.”