In a hugely exciting development for 2017, Queenstown Rovers and Southland United both join the Football South Premier League this season, bringing the league up to nine teams.
Queenstown Rovers return to the Federation league for the first time since 2014, when they finished 6th of 8 teams.
Queenstown is coached by Jamie Whitmarsh, who is also the Central Otago Football Development Officer. Jamie has a fascinating background – originally from the UK, he has achieved various levels of coaching badges and his coaching CV includes a stint at New York Red Bulls in the USA. Heavily involved in all things football in Queenstown and the Central Otago area, Jamie’s skills assist not just the Men’s, but also Women’s and junior clubs too.
Jamie is realistic with his expectations heading into the season, but there’s clearly a quiet confidence that their recent success in the Southland league and impressive Chatham Cup performances indicate they should be competitive. Last year his side beat Roslyn Wakari in the Cup and unbeaten league champions Caversham needed extra time to beat the plucky Queenstown side.
“Our expectations this season is that we try to build on what we have achieved in the last few seasons in both developing of younger players and results”, said Jamie. “Last year we had the opportunity to play against some Dunedin sides in the Chatham Cup and we acquitted ourselves well, we need to be prepared to match our efforts from last year.”” I’m not sure what would be considered a successful season, in the league a higher placing than achieved previously is our aim even though we recognise that this will be a challenge, and in the Chatham Cup another decent run.”
The club is a great advertisement for the global nature of football and features players from almost every corner of the globe – and there might even be a few Kiwis too for good measure. The squad includes Southern United Futsal’s Brazilian superstars Daniel de Souza, Carlos Herrmann and keeper Daniel Bocattios. Herrmann and de Souza lit up the Futsal National League and were both among the competition’s top goalscorers. Niall Malone was part of the Southern United National League squad, and keeper-come-striker Callum Flaws is no stranger to Dunedin football fans with an impressive goalscoring pedigree.
When asked what would be Queenstown’s biggest challenge this season, Jamie’s response was fairly predictable for the resort-town side. “Getting everyone on the same piece of grass every Saturday, by the simple nature of Queenstown a lot of our players have varying work schedules so it makes it difficult at times to get continuity. That said it isn’t a new problem, but one that may be the biggest factor in our season.”
It’s not just the Men’s side that takes on the best across the region – Queenstown’s Women’s side will be competing in the Women’s Premier League which will add depth to the Women’s league this year. Jamie is delighted to see Queenstown back competing against the best sides in the region in both competitions. “We as a club both Men and Women are looking forward to being back in Dunedin, naturally we are unsure of what the competition will be like but we’re excited at the prospect of pitting our wits against the best teams in the Federation”.
Football South CEO Chris Wright has been keen to ensure the best players from across the entire Federation are facing each other on a regular basis. “We’re excited by the vision, desire and hard work from both clubs and can’t wait to see how the Premier League progresses this season”, Chris said. “This advancement is part an ongoing strategy to raise the level of the competition and have Federation representation – and we’ve made good progress in 2017”.
Queenstown Rovers first match in the 2017 Premier League is hosting fellow newcomers Southland United. The match is being played at possibly New Zealand’s most picturesque ground – the Queenstown Events Centre in Frankton. If you’re in the area, pop along this afternoon and catch the action – the match kicks off at 2:45pm.