Matamata Swifts out of Northern League

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 19:55 20/02/2013

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Matamata Swifts have pulled out of Northern League Division Two, but may be replaced for the upcoming season by another Waikato side.

Swifts announced yesterday today that, chiefly due to a lack of playing strength, they decided to withdraw from Northern Regional League Football (NRLF).

"We have not taken this decision lightly but it is clear this is the correct course of action for our club," said Swifts secretary Julie Clothier.

"NRFL football is not a sustainable proposition for our club for the immediate future.

"We weighed up all the options and we determined this to be the best track for us to head down. The decision was made following consultation with key personnel and players within the local football community. It was important they had a voice in this process."

Hamilton side Claudelands Rovers will now contest a three-team playoff series to find Matamata's replacement.

Matamata joined the NRFL in 2010 and quickly won promotion to Division One but were relegated the following season and struggled in Division Two last year.

Clothier said travel expenses were another major factor for the withdrawal.

"The travel has been a huge wearing factor for us over the three years we've been involved in the NRFL and we won't miss that."

Matamata will now play in the Waikato Bay of Plenty Federation League Division 1 competition.

"We're excited to be renewing a number of local rivalries that have laid dormant for the three years we've been in the NRFL," Clothier said.

"The WaiBOP Fed League is a competitive competition with well organised clubs, so our first team will still be playing some decent games. It's important we have that as part of our local football development process."

The club will now be able to invest more focus, energy and money in the development of youth within the community.

"We have plans to ramp up our junior development programmes, as well as work much closer with local schools to expand the game in our community."

Claudelands will meet Te Atatu in a home and away playoff over two legs next month, with the winner to face Papakura City in a one-match final.

Claudelands were runners-up in last year's WaiBop Division One competition behind Taupo, who turned down the opportunity to contest a playoff.

Meanwhile, Waikato FC romped to a 4-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix A side in a friendly encounter in Ngaruawahia last night tonight.

Alexi Varela put the hosts ahead after five minutes but Bejamin Totori equalised for the visitors from the penalty spot when Hone Fowler was adjudged to have fouled Hamish Watson in the 36th minute.

Rory Turner restored Waikato's lead, also from the penalty spot, just before halftime and Sam Margetts smashed home an unstoppable third in the 75thminute. Turner added the icing on the cake with the last kick of the match.

Waikato will play their last match of the 2012/13 ASB Premiership season at home to Otago United on Sunday.

ian.anderson@waikatotimes.co.nz

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