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Stu Kelly signs for Puaikura

The 33-year-old Scot was part of the Cashmere Technical side that completed back-to-back ASB Chatham Cup wins when they downed Central United 2-1 at North Harbour Stadium last month.
And to top it off, he picked up the coveted Jack Batty Memorial as the final’s Man of the Match.
“I’ve been with Cashmere since I first came to New Zealand and the club has been a big part of me staying in this country.
“I have built up good friendships over the past 10 years at the club and winning the ASB Chatham cup again for those supporters who travelled to Auckland was a relief,” he says.
Kelly’s next mission is to lift Cook Islands champions Puaikura into the OFC Champions League for the first time since Tupapa Maraerenga qualified for the final stages in 2001 in Port Moresby.
“I was talking to Liam Little as he went to the Cook Islands last year and contact was made through Hone Fowler. After talking to the management at Puaikura, we started the signing process.
“For me to be part of Puaikura and being a role model for the club’s younger players is great. I hope I can be involved with Cook Island football more and maybe in the future use my professional coaching experience to help the country develop,” he says.
Kelly, who has enjoyed stints in the ASB Premiership with Auckland City FC, Canterbury United and Otago United, began his career in Glasgow, Scotland, with Rangers back in 1997.
His colourful career has also taken him as far afield as South Melbourne, Oakleigh Cannons in Australia and to Kohnkaen in the Thailand professional league. He has also played in Finland.
“If we win the OFC Champions League Preliminary tournament and if Puaikura want me to be part of the group stage in April I would be more than happy to be involved,” he says, “After winning it with Auckland City FC in 2011 it would be great to be there again.”
With his football future up in the air, the former Scotland age-group international has put any talk of a return to the ASB Premiership on hold.
“I always want to play in the ASB Premiership but unfortunately the way things at Canterbury United have worked out, I won’t be involved at this stage.
“I was considering moving back to Auckland myself, but my partner relocated to Christchurch, so now I am settling down here and can’t relocate to play for other clubs,” he says.
Puaikura starts its OFC Champions League Preliminary campaign on 7 October when they take on Samoan Korean Baptist Church at J.S.Blatter Football Complex in Apia in the opening match of the competition.


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