Springs goes from strength to strength

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT - By BEN ROGERS

Time flies when you’re hav­ing fun.

That’s the mantra at West­ern Springs Foot­ball Club as they cel­e­brate the club’s 25th ju­bilee.

Formed in 1989, West­ern Springs FC was the prod­uct of the amal­ga­ma­tion of Pt Che­va­lier FC and Grey Lyn­nCeltic.

Both the Pt Che­va­lier and Grey Lynn clubs saw an op­por­tu­nity to grow in mem­ber­ship and build new fa­cil­i­ties.

In West­ern Springs’ inau­gu­ral year the club fielded eight men’s, one women’s, 10 ju­nior and six midget teams with mem­ber­ship of around 375.

West­ern Springs now boasts 38 male se­nior teams, four women’s teams and 1400 ju­nior mem­bers mak­ing around 140 teams, not to men­tion 400 vol­un­teers.

These num­bers make West­ern Springs FC not only the big­gest foot­ball club in the coun­try but one of the largest sport­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions.

‘‘For us, growth has been curbed,’’ life mem­ber and ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Stephen Lowe says.

‘‘For ju­niors, we could have had a lot more if we had space to put them in. We are al­ways say­ing ‘I’m sorry we are full’ at reg­is­tra­tion.’’

West­ern Springs FC is mak­ing the most of the space it has at Sed­don Fields.

Last

year

two new ar­ti­fi­cial foot­ball turfs were put in al­low­ing the club to play matches and train in al­most any weather con­di­tions.

‘‘The turf has al­lowed us to say the game is on and it won’t be can­celled,’’ Lowe says.

‘‘It would have to be a hell of a storm to can­cel it.’’

There’s al­ways some­thing hap­pen­ing at the Me­ola Rd site. Whether it be train­ings, foot­ball acad­e­mies, school hol­i­day pro­grammes, or an All Whites train­ing ses­sion, the new pitches are al­ways in use.

Hav­ing re­cently ac­quired in­terim All Whites coach and exEnglish Pre­mier League player Neil Em­blen as the coach of the first divi­sion mens’ side, West­ern Springs is on the cusp of jump­ing up into the Lotto North­ern Pre­mier League.

What is ob­vi­ous is the club’s fo­cus on player de­vel­op­ment within their own ranks.

‘‘There are a lot of dol­lars float­ing around for play­ers but it’s not what we do,’’ Lowe says.

‘‘We would rather put our funds to­ward pro­vid­ing coach­ing fa­cil­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture.

‘‘We’ve got coaches de­vel­op­ing skill sets be­cause the kids want to learn those skills and they want to learn them early.

‘‘You don’t want to make it elit­ist. You want to give every­one the skills to keep go­ing so they go ‘I re­ally love play­ing this game’.

‘‘We make it so they love play­ing on a Sat­ur­day but if they want to take it fur­ther there are path­ways in place.’’

West­ern Springs women’s teams have been a suc­cess win­ning the ASB Knock­out Cup in 2007 and have been a train­ing ground for no­table Foot­ball Ferns Rosie White and Ab­bie Erceg.

To­day Springs FC will be­gin cel­e­brat­ing its 25-year an­niver­sary, kick­ing things off with a func­tion aimed at bring­ing the mem­bers of the found­ing clubs to­gether, fol­lowed to­mor­row with a dinner at Trusts Sta­dium in Hen­der­son.

Pho­tos: PHOTOTEK.CO.NZ

Top pitch: West­ern Springs takes on Lynn Avon un­der lights on their im­pres­sive ar­ti­fi­cial turf at Sed­don Fields.

Busy club: The fa­cil­i­ties at Me­ola Rd are hardly ever empty.

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