Contributed by: Rod Shaw
There is a "new" club in Canterbury (New Zealand) called the Christchurch Bulldogs, with the aim being for the Kiwis' most southern league to have four strong independent clubs. Read on for more information on how they went about forming a stand alone club, and other football related issues in the South Island of NZ....
The Christchurch Bulldogs last year were the University Cougars' second team, which ensured a 4 team competition in the CAFL. They have now formed a strong link with the NZ Institute of Sport, which has proven to be a good source of players. They will be based at a new ground – Westminster Park in St Albans, home of Christchurch Rugby Club (oldest in NZ). The team were pretty competitive last year (albeit still linked with the Uni Cougars) and given a player base of 18 – 23yr olds coming through NZIS, they will become a formidable outfit in a couple of years.
Coach Steve Langridge, who played for the Newtown and Chilwell Club in the Geelong FL and later with the Sapphire Coast (NSW) Club Tathra Sea Eagles, had this to say "The Bulldogs started as a wayward bunch of rugby heads who tried football but didn’t train, got frustrated with the umpires not knowing the rules and ending up fighting. After one major incident in 2003 they were asked not to come back. Having three teams in a competition really sucked so as a senior player of the University Cougars I decided it would be better for football to steer this bunch of Bulldogs into something of a team. During 2005 I tried to coach them, though they never trained and sometimes I played two games (one for the Bulldogs and also the Cougars). In 2006 I decided I would commit to the fourth team entirely for the sake of the League".
In 2007 they have broken away to form their own Club and with CAFL Secretary Lachlan Keating adding both administration and playing support to the new venture, Coach Langridge is very positive, "I was quite impressed for a team that was so inexperienced at the start of the season the way they finished off 2006".
With regard to the CAFL – the new ground of the Bulldogs, with changerooms and bar facilities attached, will make Ausralian Football an attractive option and the link with the resident Westminster Park sporting clubs will create a database of 3500+ players from various sports which should definitely boost the player numbers.
In other CAFL news, NZAFL (check out their revamped website) CEO Rob Vanstam will soon be in the province to get the ball rolling with the schools competition and is taking coaching sessions at a variety of schools, including St Bede’s, where NZ Falcons CHF Richard Bradley attended and originally learnt the game. The CAFL will be supported in implementing and consolidating already established football programmes by the Sport Canterbury Development Officers.
I'm sure the growth pains of forming a new Club are familiar to many of you in the International footy scene and you will join with us at WFN in wishing the Christchurch Bulldogs every success for their coming season.
World Footy News