South Auckland Rangers have emerged as one of this year’s Chatham Cup’s surprise packages, reaching the last 32 of football’s oldest national cup competition.
With the benefit of four home ties, NRF League One club Rangers have beaten teams who play their league football in higher-ranked competitions.
These include Lotto NRFL Northern Conference side Oratia United and Lotto NRFL Men’s Championship club North Shore United, a six-time winner of the Chatham Cup.
Main photo: The Rangers team that beat North Shore United in the second round.
Next up is a third-round tie against Northern League club Western Springs, one of the largest clubs in New Zealand, who play three tiers of competition higher.
But to insiders at Rangers, the on-field performance of their men’s first team comes as no surprise and is the most visible outcome of many changes at the club.
Board member Ravindra Chandra believes the results are a direct result of hard work by the coaching staff and players, and a transformation of the club’s culture, particularly over the past six months.
He says the club has worked closely with its local community and other football groups to make the most of its diverse range of ethnicities and cultures among the junior and senior membership that now exceeds 500 players.
First-team match days have become a source of excitement for all at the club, Chandra says.
“Coaches and parents of younger players now eagerly support the first team, with some even stepping up to assist behind the bar or in the kitchen,” he says.
Chandra praised the crucial role played by Brian Shelley in uniting the team and introducing new playing styles, which have instilled confidence and belief in their own abilities.
Recognising the need to strengthen the squad, Shelley identified five talented players to bolster the team’s ranks.
Combined with the existing pool of talent, it became evident during training sessions that something special was taking shape and promotion to the Northern Conference, and a high-profile Chatham Cup run, have become realistic aims.
The club’s new strategic direction includes more commitment to women’s football, and the club now has an all-female coaching staff managing the first team, which has a squad of 18.
Club says sponsors can play a pivotal role
South Auckland Rangers have a rich history that dates back to 1973 when the club was known as Otara Rangers.
Following a merger with Clove Nor Park in 1989, the club became South Auckland Rangers, maintaining a tradition of success and community engagement.
Over the years, Rangers have overcome various obstacles and have made progress through the dedication of members and the support of the community, Chandra says.
However, to sustain and further enhance its impact, the club requires the support of grants, sponsors and local businesses.
Grant applications for equipment and support for the women’s team have been repeatedly rejected, which is disappointing considering the profile of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Additionally, long-neglected infrastructure needs, which fall under the responsibility of the council, have further strained the club’s resources.
The club’s recent accomplishments and media attention have created an opportune moment for potential partners to come forward and invest in the future of South Auckland Rangers.
Chandra says by joining forces with the club, sponsors can play a pivotal role in helping South Auckland Rangers become the thriving home of South Auckland football and contribute to the growth and development of the sport at all levels.
- Ravindra Chandra can be contacted at [email protected] or mobile 021 2943657.
The Chatham Cup run
Game played on Saturday April 22, 2023
South Auckland Rangers 4 (Keith Anderson 29′, Netani Doli 55′, Hussaini Khan 62′, Calvin Opperman 78′)
Game played on Saturday May 13, 2023
South Auckland Rangers 3 (Joe Minto 64′, 66′, Ronald Kivolyn 72′)
Oratia United 2 (Mark Withers 23′, 75′)
Game played on Saturday June 3, 2023
South Auckland Rangers 2 (own goal, Mohammed Atiq 75′)
North Shore United 1 (Nick Petherick 29′)
Game to be played weekend of June 17-18, 2023
South Auckland Rangers v Western Springs
Rongomai Park, Ormiston
South Auckland Rangers
Rangers’ 2023 squad includes:
Mohammed Yunus Atiq
Ronald Leslie Kivolyn
Pablo Yackson Carabajal