Challenges, fun times during Wright’s tenure

Chris Wright is leaving the South.

Football South’s chief executive is set to finish in early October, concluding a six-year tenure in the role.

Wright will return to the technology industry, taking over as chief executive of New Zealand sports technology company Friendly Manager. He will relocate to Tauranga with his family.

Wright said the opportunity was a rare one, and the idea of getting back into the technology sector was attractive.

He also felt he had achieved what he set out to at Football South, although admitted he was sad to be leaving.

"It’s mixed emotions, really," Wright said.

"I probably haven’t quite got into the zone of being excited yet, just because it’s quite sad making the decision and the thought of leaving here.

"I’ll be really sad to leave the team and what I do here, which I really enjoy. But the opportunity I’m going to is quite an exciting one and something I personally feel quite passionate about."

Wright was "really happy" with his time at Football South.

He joined the organisation in 2015 as it entered a period of change. That had been challenging, although it was something he had been prepared for when he began and he felt it had emerged in good health.

"There’s always little things you learn and think you could’ve done better looking back.

"But I think the big picture is Football South is in a stronger position than it was six years ago.

"We’ve got such a great team of people and we’ve got a much more federation-wide focus, which has been really important.

"There’s been lots of challenging times and a lot of fun times, too."

His highlights include the Logan Park Turf project, securing the Women’s World Cup and the way the culture and standards had raised.

It had also come with challenges.

Notably, he said withdrawing the Southern United men’s team from the national league had been "really tough", while the Covid-19 period and aftermath had also been difficult.

Football South chairman Graham Marshall said Wright would be missed, but that the board wished him well.

"When I came on to the board [four years ago], I sensed that Chris straight away was a very capable CEO," Marshall said.

"He has led the team at Football South incredibly well over that period.

"The enablement of having the turf in Dunedin was a great result for the city and was driven by Chris with the support of the board and the community and the DCC.

"But other than that, just leading by example for Football South has been tremendous. It’s been a privilege for the board to be working with him and achieve the things we have over the last six years."

Wright said he would be around to help the organisation through the transition period.

He also planned to remain involved through playing and by coaching his children in Tauranga.

jeff.cheshire@odt.co.nz

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