The Southland Football team playing in the Southern Premier League this year will feature two familiar faces for Gore Wanderers followers.
The new side comprises players from throughout Southland’s football club, including Ben Rea, of Heriot, and Jack Boland, of Gore.
Both players were excited about the opportunity to play for the team but the inclusion came with challenges.
Rea (18), a centre back, has played with senior Wanderers sides for three years.
Last year was his first year playing in the Donald Gray Southland Premier Football competition.
“I was pretty excited to be selected. It took a little bit to decide whether to commit. It is the best decision to further my football,” he said.
Rea had been concerned about the travel involved. He would travel 114km for training on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in Invercargill.
“I am travelling for training twice a week where I can pick and choose the day,” he said.
The standard of football in the Southern Premier League will be up a notch from Donald Gray.
Rea was enjoying the challenge in the squad.
“It has pushed me, widened my game structure and helped me work on my positional play.”
Despite coming from separate clubs throughout Southland, the side was beginning to gel, Rea said.
“I know quite a few of them from either playing with them in age group teams or against them. It takes a while to get the combinations.”
Jack Boland, of Gore, works in Invercargill for Southland Football so he will travel a lot less than Rea.
“Late nights is my travel concern, getting back at 9 or 10pm,” Boland said.
Midfield and defensive utility Boland is looking forward to the challenge. He last played for the Wanderers five years ago, spending last season with Green Island in the Southern Premier League.
It was this experience the Southland side could lean on going into the league.
“The side I played in last year was quite a young team and we came last in the league,” he said.
At 20 Boland was one of the senior players in the side. It would be a similar case for the Southland side who would at least have a couple of players in their mid 20s.
“It will be be good to come back down south and play at home every second Saturday,” he said.
While Rea and Boland had chosen to take on the challenge, the travel was too much for several Wanderers players to commit.
Juan Jaurretche, Frank De Jong and Darren Cripps were unable to commit to the side for individual reasons.
Head coach Luis Paiva said they wanted guys who were able to commit 100% to the side.
“We had many players who had initially agreed to join the side, however travel and other factors has impacted the team.”
The side has had several warm-up matches against Donald Gray team’s, so far winning each. The side gets to play Southern Premier League side Green Island this weekend.