Opinion: Time to get behind Otago team

The season is drawing to a close for Otago United. Just two games remain, beginning with this week's home fixture in Invercargill against Wellington.

Unfortunately, I won't be on the bus. I have played my last game for Otago and a broken tibia has consigned me to the couch for the next few months.

Injuries are certainly a part of sport at this level, and after a career of being virtually injury-free, I have been very lucky to make it this far before getting a really bad one.

Not only does it end my season for Otago but it also means missing the winter season for Dunedin Technical.

I have to give thanks in advance to my extremely supportive wife Maggie and daughter Ruby, who will have to put up with a lot from me over the next few months.

So, with six points from 12 games so far, Otago United requires a few more points to surpass its worst effort of eight points in 2008.

Where has it all gone wrong?Forsyth Barr Stadium has become a bit of a hoodoo and all the points have come away from home. Although the players love playing at the stadium, it probably suits the better footballing teams due to its size, and takes away the weather elements of wind and rain, which teams from the North Island often hate.

Is the current crop of players good enough?In my opinion, we have the best local players Otago has to offer but yet we still can't compete regularly with the teams above us.

These teams all have a bigger player base, more resources and the ability to attract good quality overseas players.

The other problem we have is teams poaching our best players, which seems to happen every season and sets us back to square one, as we try to replace key players with younger and younger kids.

The Auckland teams have the World Club Cup prizemoney, and Wellington has the backing of the Phoenix.

However, Canterbury and Hawkes Bay have developed strong squads and set-ups on the back of very involved community support and the backing of all local clubs, so I believe we need to look at something similar if Otago United is to succeed and push for playoff spots in the future.

There have been a few positives this season, including the performances of Regan Coldicott in having a consistent run of scoring form, and also the emergence of young Joel Stevens, before he was injured.

Let's hope the boys can finish the season well and get some much-needed points on the road this week. I'm picking a 2-1 win.

- Aaron Burgess is a striker for Otago United and has been a prolific scorer for Dunedin Technical for more than a decade.

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