Pukekohe Pythons rugby league club on the rebuild after vandals destroy facilities

John Boynton

After vandals destroyed their facilities, Pukekohe Pythons look to rebuild a home base to be proud of.

Tammy Potini would love a clubroom to display all the trophies the Pukekohe Pythons have collected over the years.

However, the reality for the Pukekohe rugby league club is it has a run-down shipping container and an aging removable toilet block substituting for a clubroom.  

Recently, Potini has taken on the role of project manager to help repair damage caused by vandals in the club's off-season.

The club currently has seven junior rugby league teams.
JOHN BOYNTON/FAIRFAX NZ

The club currently has seven junior rugby league teams.

This Saturday from 11am-3pm the club will hold a working bee to start its rebuild.

"It's more devastating than it's ever been for this place," Potini said.

The club's toilet and kitchen blocks were destroyed by vandals causing thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Recently two players from the club have been signed to the Warriors.
JOHN BOYNTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Recently two players from the club have been signed to the Warriors.

For a club which already had so little, the vandalism was heart breaking, Pukekohe Pythons club secretary Eva Tautari said.

"We just come here and try to make something out of nothing - they're not giving anyone the opportunity to do that."

Looking toward the future, Potini wants to build a permanent facility that players, parents and the community can be proud of.

This current shipping container is used as a kitchen by the league club.
JOHN BOYNTON/FAIRFAX NZ

This current shipping container is used as a kitchen by the league club.

"There's actually no identity on this place."

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The club caters for junior league and also has teams in the local netball competition. 

Potini said if the club remained in its current state the community would move on.

This toilet facility was destroyed during the off season.
JOHN BOYNTON/FAIRFAX NZ

This toilet facility was destroyed during the off season.

"We're in the 21st century now and I don't think any club in New Zealand is operating like this.

"For us we're trying to do something because we know there's a lot of talent - all our kids are talented and we're trying to work for them."

Team manager Sharlene Pulefolau said the current state of facilities was embarrassing.

Toliet blocks, urinals and basins were smashed by vandals using rocks.
JOHN BOYNTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Toliet blocks, urinals and basins were smashed by vandals using rocks.

On wet game days, the fields were packed full of visitors, parents, supporters and players - all often huddled under a crumbling lean to. 

"I wish the community could come and see parents putting kids in cars because we don't have a facility to get them dressed on a rainy day.

"Kids standing in puddles trying to navigate their way into their uniform."

The long term plan is to build a toilet and changing block, a kitchen facility and netball courts.

Tautari said they were often told they should be happy to have two playing fields. 

"If I read between the lines its 'you've got two beautiful fields, why are you complaining?'

"We have a big vision for this place, but we need everyone else to see that vision with us."

Pulefolau said there were no sporting hubs in Pukekohe North.

"It makes me feel sad when I drive past the soccer and netball complexes [in Franklin] because we've got kids with just as much heart - we're in the same community sharing the same space but we don't have the same type of facilities."

Broken promises by various groups and organisations over the years had left the club disillusioned, Potini said.

So she decided to post the club's story on social media to gain traction.

"There's no action behind the talk so that's why I thought 'stuff going through all the big parties, let's make a bigger statement'."

The club has had players make various representative sides in different codes and recently two young players from the club were signed to the New Zealand Warriors.

Whanau needed to be empowered by the club's successes, Potini said.

"All those achievements have pretty much come from parental coaches, managers and committees' hard work."

Potini said a clubroom to display trophies and team photos was what their kids deserved.

"Even though they're proud, they'll be more proud if they can see their photos up on the wall."

 

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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