Links Ave Upgrade

3 Oct

Some great news below. In addition to the ground upgrades, we've recently also had sign-off to replace our clubroom flooring and lighting. 


Tauranga City AFC (TCAFC) home ground, Links Avenue Reserve, has had approval from Tauranga City Council (TCC) for an upgrade this Summer. It’s the first phase of planned upgrades and part of a wider strategy by TCC to improve sports grounds across the region. This will enable increased utilisation without the need for additional ground space for Aotearoa’s most played game 1.

TCAFC Chairperson, Brendon McHugh, said the upgrades to Links Avenue and other grounds across the city were desperately needed. 

“Like all sports across the country, it’s been a tough year with the amount of rain we’ve had. But even with good weather, we would’ve struggled this year as we’ve had increased Junior, Youth and Senior teams and also increased numbers in our football development programmes. Our only pitch that held up well was one that had good maintenance carried out a couple of years ago, with the right drainage and grass surface. Spending more money on grounds ultimately reduces the cost of maintenance going forward and enables higher utilisation”.

The football development programmes Brendon refers to are New Zealand Football (NZF) accredited Skills Centre (SKC) (ages 9-12) and Talent Development Programmes (TDP). TCAFC operate the only NZF accredited TDP in the Bay of Plenty and, along with Papamoa FC, operate the only SKC in the region. 

“The accreditations acknowledge that NZF supports what we’re doing and shows a high level of trust that we are making the right decisions for the development of our junior and youth members,” added TCAFC Director of Football Barry Gardiner. “A lot of work has gone into gaining these accreditations by our staff on and off the field. We’re lucky to have a talented and highly qualified team of coaches who all share the same beliefs when it comes to junior and youth development.”

The TDP accreditation enables aspirational youth players in the region to compete at the highest level. TCAFC are currently competing in the U17 Boys National Youth League against the best clubs in the WaiBOP and NRF regions, and over the 2022 season have had U14, U15 and U17 teams competing in the NRFL Youth league. 

However, competing against clubs with membership bases of 2000+ isn’t an easy task as Brendon highlights. 

“We’ve operated the only TDP now for three years and while we can continue to sustain the programme ourselves, the requirements to operate a TDP are getting harder. NZF have advised clubs in Tauranga that, unless we collaborate, we will struggle to continue competing at this level. We recognised that there is an opportunity in the region to collaborate more with other clubs, and we’ve discussed it a lot over the last few years. This year we really wanted to push these plans ahead and hope to announce some exciting news around this very soon. TCC have been part of these discussions, along with Sport Bay of Plenty, WaiBOP Football, Northern Regional Football (NRF) and NZF. To support this collaboration with other clubs, we needed improved facilities and grounds.” TCC referred to the collaboration initiative as the “Home of Football” project, which was submitted this year as part of a wider programme of work. The first phase of this project is the upgrade of Links Ave pitches to a premium surface with additional parking. 

Brendon said that he’s been impressed with the council’s approach. “When we first saw the plans, we had some concerns over the design. Huge credit to the council team, who listened to our feedback and allowed us to work with them on designs which will enable Links Ave to be utilised more than it currently is”.

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