The ability of New Zealand Football to host a large scale international event has been proven yet again with the successful staging of the World Masters Games football tournament in Auckland.
The competition attracted over 2,200 footballers from 13 countries, who did battle across more than 380 matches at three venues over nine days. Plenty of Kiwis were able to celebrate by the end of the action with several of the New Zealand-based teams winning their respective categories.
As expected, the Ferns Reunited line-up – which featured a host of former Football Ferns such as Sarah Gregorius, Priscilla Duncan, Rebecca Rolls, Kristy Hill and Pam Yates – proved a formidable force and claimed gold in the Women’s A Grade 30+ category while there was an all-Kiwi showdown in the Men’s A Grade 50+ final with Kiwi Masters edging out Tofts 2-1. The Kiwi Masters squad included former All Whites Noel Barkley, Rodger Gray and Carl Jorgensen while another local side packed full of international experience, Rangitoto United, took the honours in the Men’s A Grade 35+ category. Rangitoto’s march to glory was led by the likes of Noah Hickey, Leigh Kenyon, Jeff Campbell, Gerard Davis and Ross Nicholson, who boast a wealth of All Whites caps between them.
Outside of the championship winners, other New Zealand sides to feature in the medals included PMP – who former Ferns Maia Jackman and Marlies James helped to second place in the Women’s A Grade 35+ – and Central United, who were guided to bronze in the Men’s A Grade 35+ by a notable group that included Ivan Vicelich, David Mulligan, Paul Urlovic, David Rayner and Grant Young.
Away from the pitch, the football component of the World Masters Games was a huge success on a number of fronts and – following New Zealand’s impressive hosting of the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup, 2008 FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup and 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup – further underlined the country’s suitability to deliver such events.
“We exceeded our target in terms of participation numbers and the passion, competitiveness and comradery of the teams was a notable highlight,” says Daniel Farrow, Head of National Competitions for New Zealand Football. “We received fantastic feedback from the teams and that is one of our main measures of success.”
The hundreds of matches were staged on various fields at QBE Stadium, as well as at the Westlake girls and boys high schools. Farrow says the event would not have run as smoothly from a logistical point of view had it not been for the hard work of staff at each venue.
“Hosting the tournament was a real collaborative effort and we are very grateful to the three venues for making their facilities available and providing such a high level of support,” he says.
At the helm of the organisation was a core team that included Tournament Director Kerry Greene, Tournament Manager Mark Greene, Referee Manager Campbell-Kirk Waugh and Competitions Manager Kelly Bolus, as well as Farrow, who acted as a technical delegate. A further 10 staff also had instrumental roles while a 100-plus group of selfless volunteers, including 70 referees, made sure everything ran smoothly.
“Such a successful hosting of the tournament would not have been possible without the commitment of the lead team and our great group of volunteers – I wish to thank them all for giving up their time so generously,” says Kerry Greene. “With their support, we were able to deliver a great event for New Zealand.”
In addition to providing a high-quality experience on the pitch, New Zealand Football also took the opportunity to further spread the word about its recently-launched Fit4Football programme – an initiative that offers a complete guide to match preparation, performance enhancement and injury prevention for players of all ages and levels of competition.
The Injury Prevention Team was on hand to deliver free access to warm-up and recovery zones, guidance on the FIFA 11+ warm-up programme and support on injury management, which were all a big hit amongst the players.
“A key focus for the Fit4Football team was to keep our masters teams performing on the pitch day after day, while also supporting them in reducing the incidence and severity of any potential injuries,” says Megan Crockett, National Injury Prevention Manager for New Zealand Football. “Our warm-up and recovery zones were extremely well used by the teams and were certainly appreciated.”
The medal winners in each category of the World Masters Games football tournament were as per below.
For the full results please click here
World Masters Games Football Tournament
Men’s A Grade 30+: Gold, The Olympic Club (USA); Silver Braveheart United (NZL)
Men’s B Grade 30+: Gold, Brit Army (UK); Silver, New Zealand Defence Force (NZL)
Men’s A Grade 35+: Gold, Rangitoto United (NZL); Silver, Leichhardt Tigers (AUS); Bronze, Central United (NZL)
Men’s A Grade 40+: Gold, Team KSHI (RUS); Silver, Coasters Unite (NZL); Bronze, Newcastle Kingfishers (AUS)
Men’s A Grade 45+: Gold, ReAnimates (AUS); Silver, Master Class (AUS); Bronze, Takapuna Cavaliers (NZL)
Men’s A Grade 50+: Gold, Kiwi Masters (NZL); Silver Tofts (NZL)
Men’s B Grade 40+: Gold, Laranja Mecanica do Brasil (BRA); Silver, Birkenhead United (NZL); Bronze, Tauranga City Relics (NZL)
Men’s B Grade 50+: Gold, Tasmanian Dad’s Army (AUS); Silver, Oldman Arthritic (NZL); Sydney Supernova’s (AUS)
Men’s Open Grade 55+: Gold, Islanders (CAN); Okanagan Kickers (CAN); Bronze, Cosmos Wanganui (NZL)
Men’s Open Grade 60+: Gold, Canberra Old Boys (AUS); Silver, Pacific Coast United (USA); Bronze, P.F.C. A (ITA)
Women’s A Grade 30+: Gold, Ferns Reunited (NZL); Silver, Rose City FC (USA); Bronze, The Olympic Club (USA)
Women’s A Grade 35+: Gold, WAM (USA); Silver, PMP (NZL); Bronze, Whipsaws FC (USA)
Women’s A Grade 40+: Gold, Shevas (CAN); Silver, Murtwildas (AUS); Bronze, Waikato Women Pioneers (NZL)
Women’s A Grade 50+: Gold, Leahi (USA)
Women’s B Grade 30+: Gold, Rapids FC (CAN); Silver, Victoria West FC (CAN); Bronze, Balmain and District FC (AUS)
Women’s B Grade 40+: Gold, WAM (USA); Silver, ACFC (Canada); Bronze, Meralomas United (CAN)
Women’s B Grade 50+: Gold, Breakaways (USA); Silver, Westcoast WINOS (CAN); Bronze, Snow Angels (CAN)
Women’s Open Grade 55+: Gold, Seattle Alliance Soccer Club (USA); Silver, Leahi (USA); Bronze, Canadian Ice (South of 60) (CAN)
Women’s Open Grade 60+: Gold, Holomua (USA); Silver, Still Kickin’ (USA); Bronze, Mor! (USA)