Crazy Cyclone Lusi was supposed to strike NZ this weekend, so I cancelled all my plans, which chiefly involved a couple of nights up at Cooks Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, and stayed home.
That meant I could wander down to the Matamata Domain five minutes before kick-off to check-out the latest instalment in Matamata Swifts’ re-birth as a senior club.
But I was worried. This weekend the storm to end all storms was supposed to strike so I was guessing we’d be in for something spectacular. That’s what the media said so it must be true.
As it turned out, conditions were difficult without being apocalyptic. The rain spattered down all game and the wind blew in surges but we were a long way from what we were told to expect.
The players battled through it, getting another pre-season 90 minutes under their belts. There should probably have been a couple of goals at each end but it was one of those afternoons where the ball found strange ways to keep out. Some of the football was constructive as both sides had their periods of dominance and, promisingly, the Swifts finished much the stronger. They hit the woodwork and sent an easy header just wide late on, denying themselves an encouraging win.
Matamata Swifts is my club, as has been documented, and I like the direction the side is taking this year. The team out today was very, very young, probably too young, but they did okay and they look to be taking on the pattern of play the new coach, Chris Powell, is trying to instil. After a couple of years of turmoil, things seem to be settling down and something resembling a long-term plan is taking shape.
The club needs to rediscover its’ identity and purpose and stay true to that, while creating an atmosphere that’s fun and inviting. That’s happening. It will always be a challenge for a small club based a reasonable distance from decent sized population bases to scale the heights of regional league football. We’ve had a good crack at it a couple of times, using tactics that probably won’t be possible again.
We’ll concentrate on building a base for now, by bring youth in and trying to be a hub for football in the Matamata-Piako district. Who knows where that will take us three or four years from now? At the moment, though, we’ll just take it one game at a time.
And one final word on the precipitation; after six weeks of daily water deliveries, just to keep the field in reasonable nick, the rain is welcome. Well over half a million litres would have been sucked out of the tanker truck and sprinkled on the Domain since late January. Hopefully the natural stuff will kick the surface back to life and bring it back to its’ pre-Christmas quality. Just in time for the big kick-off.