WaiBOP United 1-1 Hawke’s Bay United
On Saturday the Matamata Domain hosted the opening fixture in the 2014 ASB Youth League. This league is New Zealand’s national under-20 football league and contains the best young football talent in the country.
The match was between WaiBOP United (short for Waikato Bay of Plenty United) and Hawke’s Bay United. After a goalless first half, WaiBOP took the lead thanks to ex-Matamata Swifts player Jevon Williams. Hawke’s Bay drew level from the penalty spot a little later, and the teams couldn’t be separated. In what was an open match a draw was a fair result, but a more likely scoreline would have been 3-3 as both sides created a number of good chances on a lovely summer’s afternoon.
Two further players with Matamata Swifts connections also took part in the match. Scott Hilliar, who played junior football in Matamata and has been involved with WaiBOP United’s first team this summer, started in midfield, as did Jacob Robb, who travelled with the Matamata Swifts under-19s to the national club youth championships in 2013.
The Matamata Domain was chosen to host this match because of the support Matamata Swifts AFC has offered WaiBOP United in the build-up to the youth team’s season. The club has proactively supported WaiBOP United by offering the Domain as a training venue for the squad as well as, early on, as a place to hold the squad’s trials. With Matamata being so central in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region the town is the ideal venue to host such footballing events.
Matamata plays host to two further ASB Youth League matches this summer. On Saturday January 25 WaiBOP United plays Wanderers SC , which is basically the New Zealand under-17 training squad. On Saturday March 8 WaiBOP United plays Waitakere United, another Auckland-based team. These matches present a great opportunity for Matamata’s residents to watch some of this country’s top young football talent. Most teams contain players that have already played for their senior teams in the ASB Premiership (New Zealand’s national league) and may very well go on to play football professionally.