Long reaches 200-game AFC mile­stone

Auckland City Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - TORIKA TOKALAU-CHAN­DRA

Play­ing 200 games in Auck­land’s premier soft­ball league has been a walk in the park for Ger­ard Long.

The 33-year-old Marist util­ity in­fielder be­came the first player to reach the mile­stone in the Auck­land Fast­pitch Cham­pi­onship (AFC) league, when he helped his side de­feat How­ick 3-2 on Novem­ber 19.

‘‘The first thing that comes to mind when you men­tion 200 games is old.

‘‘Bbut to be hon­est it hasn’t felt like that many games at all,’’ Long says.

‘‘It’s al­ways some­thing to be proud of, to play that many top level games.’’

Long be­gan his soft­ball ca­reer at One­hunga Man­gere Club be­fore mov­ing to Eden Roskill where he got his first taste of premier ball.

Over the past 11 years, Long has played 173 games for his for­mer club, the Waitakere Bears, and 27 games at Marist.

He’s also fea­tured in sev­eral AFC Series and tour­na­ment teams, and rep­re­sented Samoa in the 2013 World Series.

His first in­ter­na­tional game with Samoa and win­ning the Na­tional Fast­pitch Cham­pi­onships last year were his most mem­o­rable games, he says.

But there are games which he wishes he could for­get.

‘‘I missed a catch that ended up be­ing a home run and cost my team a chance to play in the men’s open club na­tion­als a few years ago.

‘‘I’m sure ev­ery player has made mis­takes in games they would rather for­get but I like to look back on it now and say it’s made me a bet­ter player.’’

Long has now set his sights on mak­ing the Samoan team for the world series in 2017.

He in­tends to keep play­ing soft­ball and re­main in­jury free to en­joy more sea­sons.

‘‘Rep­re­sent­ing Samoa means so much to me.

‘‘I’m hop­ing to get the chance to rep­re­sent them again so fin­gers crossed that I’m play­ing well enough to put on the Samoan jer­sey again.’’

Go­ing up against some of New Zealand’s best is the rea­son why Long has stayed in the game so long.

He ad­mits he loves the chal­lenge and the adrenalin rush he gets from the game.

‘‘My mo­ti­va­tion is to just keep play­ing the game I love, I en­joy be­ing around the boys at train­ings and com­pet­ing ev­ery week.’’

Ger­ard Long, right, played for Eden Roskill and the Waitakere Bears be­fore join­ing Marist.

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