After coaching the Nayland College First XI girls' football team for a decade, Mike Gibney is stepping down, though his team gave him the ultimate sendoff last Friday by winning the Grant Jarvis football tournament in Palmerston North.
It wasn't the top tournament in the country, and they were not the highest-placed of the Nelson teams competing around the country, but to the girls in the team and Nayland College the achievement was rated as "absolutely huge".
Nelson College for Girls finished eighth in the country and Waimea College 10th playing in the premier tournament in Taupo.
However, for the girls at Nayland College, their tournament winning feat was so emotionally charged a few tears were shed in the final, and before they knew the result, said co-captain Alex McCreary.
"When the final whistle went it was a 1-all draw [against Wellington High School] and everyone was a bit gutted; we didn't want to go to a penalty shootout. One girl started crying a bit, she was a little overwhelmed.
"Once we won the penalty shootout everyone screamed and huddled in a circle congratulating everyone else. Yeah and a few more girls started crying then . . . it was pretty high emotion stuff.
"We were ecstatic with the result because we went into the tournament without expectations.
Alex, a defensive sweeper, said that Gibney's contribution to the team was matchless.
"I would definitely like to thank Mike, he has been coaching the team for 10 years and he has been my coach the whole time I have been at Nayland. He is just awesome and so much fun to be away with at tournament.
"I would also thank the manager, Carol Parkinson, and the rest of the team because we all just pulled together and played like a team, I think that was what won it for us."
Team manager Carol Parkinson commented: "The best thing about the tournament was the belief the team had in themselves and each other and the courage and tenacity they displayed in handling the conditions throughout the week.
"Co-captains Alex McCreary and Olivia Parkinson did an excellent job of leading and inspiring the team during the tournament, with all players contributing to the overall result."
- © Fairfax NZ News