Central Otago to move to 10-team competition

Central Otago is set to move to a 10-team club competition next year with two clubs to field two sides.

The region has been looking to manage growth in player numbers in some areas of the district, coupled with other teams struggling at times to field a team.

This year there were eight teams in the competition. Additional teams will come from the Cromwell and Upper Clutha clubs which will field A and B teams. The teams will not be of even strength.

Council of clubs chairman Simon Spark said last season there were clubs which had an abundance of  players and so  many of those players did not get much time on the field.

Cromwell and Upper Clutha have appointed coaches and managers and are confident the two-team system will work. The other clubs supported the idea.

The competition will start with a full round robin involving the 10 teams and will then split into a top six and bottom four.

The top six will then play each other again before semifinals and a final. The bottom four will play among themselves for twof rounds. The competition is due to start on March 23 with the Countrywide final set for August 3.

Spark said in a place such as Central Otago, which was changing rapidly, the format of the competition had to be  reviewed every year.The emphasis was on getting players playing the game and the clubs did not want players sitting on the sidelines.

Roxburgh  dropped out of the competition two years ago but has indicated it wants to come back and play in the South Otago competition. Spark said that should enable Roxburgh to get more players from Dunedin. Wakatipu Wanderers, the second team out of the Queenstown-based club, would continue to play in the Southland competition.

Teams such as Matakanui Combined and Clyde-Earnscleugh had struggled at times to get players but Spark said all clubs had made a commitment to field a team in 2019.

Arrowtown will be back playing home games at Jack Reid Park next year after three years away while  work was done on the park and its facilities.

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