Swifts up for big club challenges
Matamata Swifts begin a daunting 2011 football season this Saturday with a trip to Auckland to play Manurewa AFC, one of the Northern Region Football League Division 1 favourites.
This season is a huge challenge for a small club and the Swifts will be competing in a strong league against some big clubs and as the only Waikato/Bay of Plenty club in division one will clock up more miles than ever before.
‘‘This division is the second highest league in winter football in New Zealand,’’ Swifts coach Duncan Lowry said.
‘‘There’s only the premier league above us and division one includes us and 11 teams from Auckland and further north.’’
Mr Lowry’s goal for the season was to try to stay in division one, he said.
‘‘We have to take as many points as we can at home by making the Matamata Domain a difficult place for visiting teams to come.
‘‘ If we can nick a few points on the road as well then we should be okay.’’
The Swifts will see a few changes this season.
‘‘We’ve lost some experienced players, including Grant Cooper as well as our two leading scorers from last season, Mike Beard, who’s unlikely to return from Britain, and Tim Miller. Their goals, in particular, will be tough to replace,’’ he said.
The spine of Matamata’s side will be built around experienced players. Andy Birchenough, Ged Parkinson and Alberto Romero have all played more than 100 games for the club, while Tom Pamment, Jon Allen, Stu Watene and Bevan Woltersdorf have played many seasons at this level.
Lowry also said he was delighted to see Michael Spencer was back to full fitness after injury wrecked his 2010 season.
Matamata also welcomes back Ismail Awad after he took last season off. Awad played for the Swifts in 2009 and scored some important goals.
Exciting for Lowry
is a crop of solid youngsters.
Players like Andrew Clothier, Glen Carmichael, Dwayne Signal, Cory Rosser, Jamie Baxter and several others have impressed during the preseason period. ‘‘I expect to see more first team involvement from these players this year,’’ Lowry said.
‘‘Andrew and Jamie have been around the side for several seasons, while all the youngsters have benefited from a pre-season working with Wilfredo Antunez, our reserve team coach. They now have a great opportunity for an extended run in the side and we’re going to need their energy, enthusiasm and talent.
‘‘ I’m also hopeful Ollie Wright, who is with the national under-17 squad, will also see some involvement with us, possibly later in the season,’’ he said.
Following the trip to Manurewa, the Swifts return to the Domain on April 9 to play their first home game of the season, when they host OnehungaMangere United.