Shane Tinetti has taken on the role of defensive coach for the New Zealand Mako flag football team. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Shane’s gridiron dreams


Ever since seeing the spectacle that is American Football on TV as a child, Shane Tinetti has been obsessed with the sport.

He was awe-struck by the velocity and brutality of the NFL.

“It was just different; the guys were huge, and the contact was intense.”

So, when PlayStation released a gridiron game where he could play as his beloved Greenbay Packers, Shane’s obsession grew.

“I grew up loving sport and playing video games, so once I got a taste for it, I was hooked.”

After attending Nelson College, Shane moved to Australia in 2009 for work.

It was there that he heard on the radio about American Football being played in Queensland.

“I stopped work straight away, jumped on the internet and found the closest club.”

After living his dream and playing in a full-contact gridiron game, Shane went on to play five seasons with the Western Cougars at cornerback, where was tasked with defending wide receivers.

“I enjoy the challenge; I’ve always been a bit shorter so defence called to me.”

He says he thrives on the contact.

“I love to tackle and enjoy being the underdog.”

When he moved back to Nelson, the 34-year-old longed to get back on the pitch.

“I just missed it, so I made some Facebook groups to try to start something.”

Shane would often find himself alone at Tahuna Fields with a ball but no one to throw to.

However, his efforts soon paid off.

“Eventually, we got about seven regulars and now we have grown to five teams and seventy odd players.”

Along with teammate, Jono Entwistle, Shane founded the Nelson Honey Badgers in 2015.

The club hosts an annual flag football competition known as the ‘HoneyBowl’.

Shane’s career has also seen him represent our national flag football side, but a cruel twist of fate saw him miss playing for the New Zealand gridiron team.

With the Steel Blacks set to play American Samoa in 2016, Shane broke his hand just two weeks out, forcing him out of what would have been his debut.

However, his tenure in the national set up is far from over.

Shane is now set to take on his next football challenge, swapping the cleats for the clipboard and assuming the role of defensive coach for the New Zealand flag football team.

He will make his coaching debut at the World Championships in Denmark next year.

It was a decision he did not make lightly.

“I wanted to play, but we have a lot of good young players. It’s going to be hard to stand on the sidelines, but I think I’ll be a better asset to the team that way.”

Not your typical Kiwi, the sports-mad Shane admits he doesn’t even watch the All Blacks anymore.

“I’m a full-on football fan.”

His goal is to now help provide pathways for players that weren’t available to him.

“I’ve had amazing career from nothing, but to provide some young kid with the same kind of passion to chase that NFL dream is definitely something I’m passionate about.”

Shane hopes to bring the full-contact version of the game to the region but says there are serious financial hurdles.

“For the helmet and all the pads, it’s roughly $500 per player.”

He says they are currently looking at creating a limited numbers contact league.

“The cogs moving in the background, but it’s a slow process.”

He says they are pushing hard to find volunteers and resources to grow the game in Nelson.

“We have a big vision and goal; we aren’t just guys throwing a football around.”

To register your interest as a player or volunteer, email [email protected]