Tauranga City Relics face the worldSave
By Peter White
The chance to take on footballers from around the world was too good an opportunity to miss for the Tauranga City Relics.
The players, all aged between 40 and early 50s, have been training for the World Masters Games in Auckland twice a week since early February.
They are as fit as they have been for years and taking the challenge seriously.
"We are not going up there just to make up the numbers," said captain Rhys Bresnahan.
"I'm looking forward to see what sort of level these other teams are at. Hopefully we play a Brazilian team or a Ukrainian team just to really test how good we are. I think that's really exciting.
Team member Ian Gray adds an important addition to the conversation that sums up the spirit of Masters Games.
"It is important we have fun though. It is important that it is not too serious. We want to be competitive but it is going to be all the lads together having a good time and concentrating on what we love best, which is playing football," he said.
Team vice-captain Garry Board said being part of such a massive event was exciting.
"Just the sheer size of it and it being on the world stage means it is just fantastic to go up there and be part of it. It could be the only time in New Zealand for us in our career."
The impact on Auckland City and wider regions of more than 25,000 competitors and officials will be severe. Accommodation is in such short supply that the Tauranga City boys are staying at Wellsford - 77km from Auckland city - despite booking six months ago.