Monday 23 September 2019 11:32am
The Otago University Association Football Club men’s premier team. Photo: Rab Smith.
On the heels of its success in the Dunedin league, the Otago University Association Football Club Te Kapa Poiwhana o te Whare Wānanga o Ōtākou men’s premier team has received a grant of $5,500 from the Vice-Chancellor’s strategic fund, as a 150th anniversary initiative.
The team finished second in the Dunedin League and was promoted to the Southern Football League, which comes with entry fees of $11,500. The club has raised $6,000 from private donors, an OUSA contribution and some sponsorship, and the Vice-Chancellor’s one-off grant will cover the remaining cost.
“In recognition of their very successful season, along with the valuable contribution the club makes to the University, I am delighted to be able to support the OUAFC with this grant,” Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne says.
"We are currently the only University football team to be playing at this highest level, and playing all over the South Island has been a great chance in the 150th year of the University to send a message that our students are high achievers in both the academic and sporting arenas."
Head coach Darren Hart says the Southern Football League is one of the three pinnacle leagues in the country and stretches from Nelson to Invercargill. The season ran from 30 June until 1 September.
“We are currently the only University football team to be playing at this highest level, and playing all over the South Island has been a great chance in the 150th year of the University to send a message that our students are high achievers in both the academic and sporting arenas,” he says.
The OUAFC men’s premier squad currently has four performance scholars and two academic excellence scholars.
“We hope we may have inspired students from the areas we visit during the competition to further consider Otago for their endeavours next year,” Mr Hart says.
They are live-streaming their games which he says “has been enthusiastically taken up by parents in far flung areas of the world”.
The club also offers wellness and health monitoring tools to players to help them manage their hectic schedules, which include travelling to Christchurch and Nelson for games.
All travel, accommodation and food costs for the players were met for the duration of the competition.
This season, OUAFC fielded seven men’s teams and four women’s teams, making it the largest senior club team in Football South, which encompasses Dunedin, South Otago, South Canterbury, North Otago and Central Otago regions. Around 80 per cent of the players are students, along with a handful of staff and alumni.