Queenstown AFC may be changing tactics and recruiting more youth players ahead of next season after “one of the most difficult years” for the side, its head coach says.
Jamie Whitmarsh, who’s been involved in the club for many years, says the men’s senior team couldn’t make the last two games of the season because they didn’t have enough players.
They were due to play Dunedin Technical last weekend and Roslyn Wakari this Saturday.
Queenstown’s transient population and players’ work commitments during the busy winter period have always made it challenging to find people consistently available on Saturdays and for the long drive to Dunedin games.
But this year it was compounded by key players leaving town at the start of the season, an “unbelievable” list of significant injuries and a longer season than normal.
“They’re not new obstacles, they’re historical ones,” Whitmarsh says.
“But it’s been a very, very tough season for separate reasons, which are outside of people’s control.
“And that’s been evident in our results.”
Queenstown were one of seven teams remaining in the ODT Southern Football Championship after they missed mid-season promotion to the South Island League by just two points.
Football South competitions manager Garbhan Coughlan says both organisations tried to source players to avoid the club having to default.
“This is a result of a freak year of injuries numbering more than 10, which would be difficult for any club, let alone a club without a second team,” Coughlan says.
Whitmarsh says it comes down to limited resources, and giving youth players more opportunities in the senior side might be the solution.
“They don’t have the same level of obligations as an adult, they don’t have to go to work on a Saturday.”
Change is also on the cards for Whitmarsh, who’ll be taking on less responsibility next season to focus on his after-school football programme, the Whitmarsh Academy.
Asked whether he’ll be stepping down as the men’s coach, he says that’s not yet clear.
The club will spent the next few months coming up with a game plan for next season.