New Plymouth Rangers took on the best from around the country at the recent McCartney Tournament in Taupo last weekend.
The tournament, named after Taupo AFC’s long-time president John McCartney, has been held annually since 2004 when it began with eight teams.
It is now the largest juniors tournament in the country with dozens of teams gathering from the North Island.
Rangers has invested in an academy system which is starting to show signs of fruition with some promising performances over the weekend. 4 teams from 10th grade to 13th made the trip over with an expectation of mid table finishes due to some of the big clubs attending.
The 10th grade team making its debut at the tournament placed 8th which was the highest placing team from outside Auckland and Wellington.
The 11th grade team finished 5th in their section after a slow start. They narrowly lost the first three games but came home strong with four wins to wonder what might have been.
The 12th grade team were unlucky in their group and finished 3rd. Strong Auckland superclubs Birkenhead and East Coast Bays were the only two teams to take points off the Rangers team and were mostly against the run of play. The quality of play between these three top teams was exciting for the development of football in New Zealand.
The 13th grade mixed team were also unlucky with injuries throughout the tournament resulting in a 6th place finish. The highlight was a great win over the third placed Otumoetai to tie with Kapiti Coast in the middle of the table.
Competing with the best young players from around the North Island, enabled our Taranaki footballers to see what the standard is and how hard they need to work to make that next step. New Plymouth Rangers club president Monty Ammundsen says that this is just the start “we will continue to explore opportunities for our young players to develop and push towards the highest level of football they can”. Keep an eye out for trials in February 2020