Rival Queenstown junior soccer bosses are in an off-field scrap as the sport threatens to splinter in the Wakatipu.
The local Rovers senior team is trying to start a kids’ section to compete against the established Queenstown Junior Soccer Club, which has 300-plus members.
Rovers president Steve Henderson failed in a bid to get affiliation for the new junior side this season, but regional body Footballsouth is reconsidering the matter at its next meeting on May 23.
If successful, Henderson’s Rovers juniors will be eligible to play against Queenstown Junior Soccer Club sides and teams from Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra in the Central Otago Football Association league.
QJSC president Rene Kampman says he was “very surprised” when Henderson told him about the venture. Kampman: “Queenstown’s better served by one [junior] football club as opposed to two. “There’s a limited number of resources such as fields and volunteers. I offered for the clubs to amalgamate.
“I said to Steve I’m quite happy to resign as president because I don’t need it for the ego.”
Kampman says the reason he’s heard for the Rovers juniors starting up is “they didn’t like the way our club was being managed”.
“My impression is it seems to be about personalities – we’re trying to stay out of the village politics around us.”
Henderson: “It’s true to say we don’t perhaps agree with the way they go about [things]”.
Henderson claims Footballsouth wanted clubs “to put themselves in a more stable position”, and for the Rovers that meant expanding to include women’s and junior divisions.
He’s upset Footballsouth wouldn’t affiliate the Rovers juniors this season but says it “looks pretty positive to have that up and running for next year”.
He disagrees the Rovers juniors is being proposed because of personality conflicts.
“For every story you hear from one side, you can match it with one from the other – it’s so pathetic,” Henderson says.
Footballsouth general manager Bill Chisholm says the establishment of a new junior club in Queenstown would have to be for the good of the game.
The Rovers will have to stump up with a constitution and a proper committee, he says – “basically to show us they are not a one-season wonder”.
“We’ve set conditions and said if you meet these conditions, we will have two junior clubs in Queenstown,” Chisholm says.
“We’re trying to take a positive view of it.
“I still feel it’s a bit of a shame and am hoping the two clubs can still work together and co-operate with existing juniors.”
Footballsouth competitions co-ordinator Peter Ritchie says one consideration is whether there’s a need for two soccer clubs, which would then pitch them in a fight for funding.
“It wouldn’t make sense,” Ritchie says. “That might amount to one team applying as a club to get funding and an existing club with 300-odd players can’t get funding because it’s gone the other way.
“It’s nice that clubs want to grow and improve, but our consideration is for the structure of football within that whole area.”