WBS Martinborough FC Senior team kicked off for the first time this season - it’s already had some success on the field.
"I've been involved with junior football side for the last 10 years, but watching my son play last year, I realised that he didn't have a senior team to aspire to. I put the word out to the local community and asked if anyone would like to play," says Paul Brandon, team manager.
The result is a team of players aged from teens to over-60, many of whom had never met, let alone played football together, before. Yet Paul says the team has gelled together extremely well, winning four out of four matches in the Third Division. The team has now been bumped up into the First Division where he expects they will play more challenging teams.
Although, it’s been a welcome winning streak, just being able to play the game is probably the main motivation for many players.
"We are lucky enough that we have a decent enough squad so if some players say they only want to play part of game, that's fine. We tell them, 'If you're not quite right, come off. Run your heart out for 20 minutes, then take a break and start again'. And nobody is grumpy about that because it means everybody has a fair shot," says Paul.
With some team members working in Wellington during the week, he also takes a reasonable approach to training.
"I don't tell the guys they can’t play if they don’t turn up for training. We all work in different areas. I've had to deal with it myself. I've worked in Wellington and could never get back in time for training. Saturday is the key time," he says.
The team itself is probably one of the most diverse in the Wairarapa, drawing on workers in the village's hospitality, wine and farming industries as well as Wellington commuters.
"I'm from the UK, so that's why I'm probably football-mad anyway. And there are a few others from the UK, plus two local winemakers, the owner of the local Thai restaurant. And there are a few vineyard workers from France, Italy and Germany."
To encourage the club feel, the junior team kit matches the senior team.
“I prefer to be seen as one club rather than split into two separate entities,” says Paul.
In a region where rugby reigns supreme, Paul says support from the community has been fantastic, with many locals, telling him how great it is to have a football team. This includes other Wairarapa football clubs who've enjoyed being able to play a new venue on the football circuit.
Paul is particularly grateful to the Martin borough Rugby Football Club, who allow the team to use their ground and facilities.
"The rugby club have been great, so we have a really good set of club rooms and showers. Not every club has that.”