Māori Football Aotearoa is expanding into new realms this weekend when it hosts the first-ever North vs South tournament.
In partnership with Rotorua Lakes District Council, the national series will be played at Rotorua International Stadium and features eight teams:
- Ngā Tane Whanapoikiri – Senior Men
- Ngā Wahine Whanapoikiri – Senior Women
- Ngā Tama Whanapoikiri – U-16 Boys
- Ngā Hine Whanapoikiri – U-16 Girls
The event will replace the usual calendar event which sees a Māori Football Aotearoa side play Australia’s First Nations in an all-indigenous international encounter.
Organisers believe despite the international element having been taken away by COVID-19, the tournament will be just as entertaining given the natural rivalry between the North and South Island communities.
An extensive talent identification was undertaken across the North and South Islands of New Zealand, with the final squads announced on 14 January and identifying 128 Māori players across the eight competing teams.
Regulars at the OFC Champions League, Hone Fowler and Jamie Mason have been named in the Richard Kerr-Bell’s North squad.
Hot on the heels of taking out the national title with Canterbury Pride in December, Britney-Lee Nicholson, who was recently named in the Futsal Ferns training squad, is among a host of talented youngsters representing the South Island.
The matches get underway at Rotorua International Stadium on Saturday 23 January, with the first match scheduled for kick-off at 11am.