Rotorua United AFC

2021 RUAFC Chair's Report

He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata

(This whakatauki focuses on:  goodwill toward others should guide our actions and our behaviour. Compassion for others, caring for people in need, respecting the rights and the dignity of others and simply enjoying the company of friends, relatives and members of various groups are all encompassed in this proverb).

Tēnā koutou katoa

Governance and accountability are as equally important to the success of the club as the pathways and membership. It is all interlinked and the pathways and membership will never flourish and reach their fullest of potential if the operations of the club are less than sound.

Despite all the effort of the last two years getting the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, we know there is more to do. Never before has there been the demands on a volunteer club to operate in the same manner as a professional outfit, but we are rising to this. This is time consuming, places demands on individuals and the club as a whole that have not been there before. It means we needed to look at how we are operating to meet our obligations, and saw the best way to get consistency to enable a solid foundations was to delegate (in May 2019) the day to day operations to a Coordinator, with the Committee overseeing the governance but allowing everything that is needed for the operations of a senior club to happen in a timely, consistent manner.  There is no doubt this has benefited the club’s operations and Governance.

Getting everything in place for real progression is a process and one that if it is rushed will be as harmful as not ever starting the process. Steady careful process can be frustrating, but like painting the preparations you do determine the quality of the finished product.

As well as listening, governance needs to look at the bigger picture, understand and be able to implement the overall needs. Integrity in leadership does not come from being yes people. 2021 saw the club being described as being well on its way to be a model club for inclusivity.

I especially wish to acknowledge the hard work Lesli and Sam have put into making sure the Club’s accountability, transparency, and sustainability to its members, to its external stakeholders is in place with sound processes and procedures which ensure we meet the obligations and regulations we operate within. This work has gone a long way towards protecting the clubs ability to operate, supporting the coaches and players to do what they love, coach and play football.  

Achievements of the past 12 months are now showing the hard work which started in 2019 has paid off despite COVID affecting everyone in 2020. It’s also been a busy year, lots has been accomplished so the report is long and I make no apologies for that – we’ve been busy.  

The Committee do need a special shout out – as well as the governance responsibilities, the work carried out to keep the club costs down during uncertainty was a measure of the importance the club’s sustainability means to us as a group, and the time and material goods which has been donated by Lesli, Sam, Brendon, John, Jono and myself really is going above and beyond, and how quietly we have gone about this to ensure club costs were kept in check when the Club’s income had been affected by COVID, has perhaps, with hindsight, been to our detriment.

So here I provide a detailed oversight of the last 12 months, split into four sections: Players/teams/coaches, Facilities, Club Administration, Other areas of operation, before concluding.

Player membership / teams / coaches

  • For the second season running we have achieved a brilliant level of equity in membership 40% female – testimony to what our Women’s Portfolio holder Sam’s vision and tenacity started in 2019. Championing the need to create, and succeeding in an environment which was constantly described as more positive and more equal than people had experienced before.
    • We now have teams across Junior, youth and senior.
    • Four of our women, Maryanne, Sam, Gabby and Anyssa took their SL1 in 2021, and Sam also her JL1&2, YL1&2 and Hiria whose daughter plays in the Waiariki Girls team, despite missing out on the 2021 coaching courses, is keen to do a course in 2022.
    • Despite the awesome job our male coaches are doing in the girls and women’s space, the next 12 months needs to focus on developing our female coaches into active members of our coaching teams.
    • I need to thank McDonalds Rotorua and Demand Electrical for their continued support of Waiariki Girls and Women’s into 2021.
  • 2021 saw a rise of 72 players from 2020 membership which is greater than the return of the men’s Bay teams to RUAFC – this is fantastic, we are starting to get the numbers where we can really deliver the pathways which meets the needs of individuals far better.No-one knows at 12 or 13 or even 14 who is going to be the next Paige Satchell or Nando Pijnaker. Players move away to university and work - no one knows who is still going to be playing in Rotorua in their 20’s & 30’s (or 40s). All footballers and the opportunities we give them to develop are important. Overall more players means we are better able to accommodate individual motivations for playing football. There is more work to be done with strengthening the pathways but this is a great beginning and something of which everyone should be very proud of being a part.
  • 2021 is a rebuild year on the senior men’s side and I’d like to acknowledge the work that has gone into this. Even if results are hard to come by some of the time, the spirit within the men’s teams has provided a positive contribution to the club which was missed during 2020.
  • 2020 saw six funded places for coaches to attend the C Licence coaches which continues to benefit the Y-League, girls and women’s spaces in 2021. To build on this, 2021 saw encouragement and funding for Assistant Coaches and Community Pathway coaches to attend relevant courses too. RUAFC also advocated for junior clubs’ coaches to also attend and it was great to see Eastlakes do just that, en masse. We saw this as an opportunity to motivate coaches into seeing the wider pathways of football and how together we can lift football pathways and opportunities. Without coaches willing to complete these accreditations it limits our ability to enter teams in particular leagues, competitions and provide a skill centre.
  • 2020 saw us take the title in both the W-League and the Y-League U14s, congratulations again to both teams
  • Y-League saw attention on equal playing time – game days are part of the development of players, without equal opportunity on the field in games the same development opportunities are not realised. This is why RUAFC has promoted positive sidelines – to encourage parents to understand that in the youth space the win isn’t everything, football intelligence comes from players being able to put into practice what they did in training.
  • 2021 sees the club receive fantastic support by WaiBOP FDO Tracy Wrigley
  • 2021 sees us being able to offer specific goal keeping training – thanks to Gibby – for our players at no extra cost.
  • 2021 saw our senior teams enter the Kate Sheppard Cup and the Miller Cup which were a nice return for the club.
  • With the low number of teams in the 15/16 local grade team competition we changed to a 14/15 Tauranga competition which has provided far more competition for our youth players. With similar low team entries in the 13/14 grade, it would be sensible for our 13’s in 2022 to also play in the Tauranga leagues despite the travel required for away games, a four team league does not offer any depth. Both 2020 and 2021 show the player retention in football is increased when the bridge between junior and senior clubs is lessoned.
  • Positive Sidelines is a message we are getting out there as a club – it is the way to encourage football intelligence on the field and ensure a love of the game for our youth which we all want to last a lifetime.  2021 saw us start to focus on letting opposition clubs know when we had experienced great sportsmanship etc.
  • Funding supported equipment purchases for all teams after Jono went out and asked what was needed.
  • Thanks to Lesli for allowing use of her professional skills taking the team photos, mindful that our members needed us to be prudent with club funds during a COVID year.
  • Arranged for Fit4Football to give a workshop at the clubrooms
  • I must also thank all our dedicated coaches and managers, parents and partners who support our players week in week out. Not all our coaches have a family member playing in a team.

Facilities – The committee have spent much of 2020/2021 advocating for our current and future needs - with Council stating that NHP will not be used for football as soon as they can find somewhere else it means they did not want any money invested at NHP for football -  so as well as needing to be aware of our future needs and ensuring we are heard on this. Council also want to move away from clubs owning lights and so won’t support any enhancements to ours when we are told NHP can only cope with 1.5 hours use a week. We have had ongoing discussions in 2019, 2020 and 2021 with Council and their consultants re their vision for the Westbrook sports precinct and what our needs are and would be. As a result, our advocating has resulted in:

  • 2020 & 2021 saw the club have first rights to booking Puketawhero #4 with brand new LED lights – the field didn’t hold up quite as expected however with management we have been able to utilise it well. This has taken the pressure of NHP under the lights we have here.
  • 2021/2022 further advocating has led to council recognising this extra space isn’t enough for the club’s growth and so we will have another training field under LED lights available to use at Westbrook fields.
  • 2021 an extra senior field at NHP, with discussion to  explore the provision of  a senior field with changing facilities elsewhere going forward
  • April 2021 we have secured a further 10 year ground lease for our building
  • June 2021 finally secured confirmation that field #1 and the training area under the single lights will be levelled and re-grassed ready for 2022.
  • The Stadium was offered for RUAFC use free of charge in 2020 and 2021 for teams to play their scheduled games – what a fantastic opportunity for players, coaches and spectators this was.
  • Council have purchased two sets of movable goals for Puketawhero and NHP
  • Changing rooms – work started in looking at what could be done to expand changing space. Unfortunately the cost of suggestions are not feasible so we need to do more work on this and in the meantime we have accessed a council provided changing room free of charge across the field which has worked well when we have more than one game on.
    • Changing space for girls in mixed Y-League teams was created, the cost of rubbish disposal was sponsored.
  • The bar fridge is in need of replacing, a funding application was unsuccessful during COVID so more options are being explored.
  • was secured to replace the clubroom carpet; and the vinyl was sponsored by local company Independent Flooring Specialists thanks to Brendon.
  • Thanks to Jono for doing the running around to stock the bar. We have a lack of accredited Bar Managers available for senior games and so Anna, thank you for taking the first step and sitting the course and thanks to Katie for saying you will. Vanessa, as already mentioned was wonderful during Summer Football. The bar does support the club in terms of a social feel and income.
  • New signs around the clubrooms to comply with our premise licence.

Club Administration – after the last AGM the Committee drew up a list of roles and responsibilities which needed to be focused on, unfortunately not everyone who had said they wanted to be on the Committee ended up being able to commit the time, and so the slack was once again taken up by the core few again. Despite this lots has been progressed: 

  • 2020/2021 has seen Club Policies drafted, and now just need to ratified by Management Committee.
  • The need for more written procedures is still there, at the moment as they hadn’t been written Sam and Lesli has been ensuring our legal obligations such as data protection and regulatory obligations are met, the use of Sporty to manage transactions are in place and as a Club we are lucky to have the knowledge, attention to detail, as well as integrity in two key club roles.
  • Xero: Whenever systems are changed even for the right reasons there are understandably going to be some teething issues moving across, it’s now starting to show the benefit it will be to the club’s planning ability.
  • Improvements to the functionality of the website were made which was moved to Sporty to reduce ongoing costs.
  • 2021 has seen the Club develop a sponsorship document and that is ready to go live
  • Advice from Sport BOP suggested that before we could get really good data for strategic development, our membership needed to have the opportunity to learn what goes into a senior club. Therefore a newsletter mailer was started in May 2021 to do just this. This has been well viewed each time and so is a great start to what needs to be a priority for the next 12 months. With senior men’s back we now have a full membership to provide a full picture, so the delay might actually have been beneficial.
  • Promotion and support of NZF best practice and WaiBOP regulations across all teams – important if we wish Rotorua football to really progress forward.
  • Accessibility and removing barriers remained a focus for the committee in 2021.
  • Maintain focus on the purpose of the club and work towards lifting football for all.
  • The constitution is in need of review and update– no doubt about that – our membership needs to be better represented at governance. Diversity in governance should not be left to chance. 2 years ago the MC would have been grappling in the dark about what was really needed, but with the oversight and indepth knowledge of the day to day operations of the Club, we are in a far better position to get a governing document that really works for the membership -it is on the agenda as a Committee Motion and the membership can vote on what happens next.
  • Attend WaiBOP and Council meetings, SportBOP workshops
  • Support of coaches and players in terms of WaiBOP regulations.

Other areas of operation

  • Senior Social Futsal was impacted by COVID, the club needed to ensure the costs were covered, participant contact details were collected, and reduce the onerous on the volunteers running the evenings. Registrations and payments are therefore all through Sporty now.  And numbers have stayed very good despite a few initial grumbles about a term by term registration, and financial risk to the club from needing to pay for the whole arena hire in advance is mitigated. In addition there is no need for money to be banked weekly by volunteers.
    • Huge thanks to Jayden and Yool for running these evenings
  • RUAFC was able to support the establishment of a Junior Futsal League in Rotorua in late 2020 by being able to pay for the arena upfront whilst schools were invoiced. It was also able to be run as cost neutral so accessibility could be maximised and youth be supported to obtain referee accreditations through receiving volunteer reimbursements. Starting off as girls only, it progressed to mixed in Term 1 with even more girls participating.Facilities to run futsal are less than ideal however.
    • Huge thanks to Adrian and Jeanene for leading this.
  • 2021 Māori Football Aotearoa has also seen our club as a club to partner with to develop coaches, players and referees who identify as Māori -we are both delighted and proud to have been part their inaugural games in Rotorua earlier this year organising ball people and mascots.
  • Maurice Hulme didn’t happen in 2020 but will be again in 2021, this is a revenue stream for RUAFC but does need volunteers to make that a reality. 2022 will see the APEs games being held on NHP and the Clubrooms being hired out.
  • Summer football – yet again huge time and effort by a few people to ensure the club is sustainable financially, Sam, Lesli and Vanessa there every week ensuring the bar and kitchen was available to summer members.  Thanks to Adrian with the scheduling.  40 senior teams participating across two nights. Unfortunately Eastlake JSC did not want to run junior summer football for the 2020/21 summer so RUAFC ran it with a different format to the previous year. Futsal had taken off so this impacted junior numbers. However Summer football is there for accessibility of juniors who might participate in a different winter code so is important to keep this if at all possible.
  • RUAFC submitted an application for Tu Manawa funding to increase accessibility to junior girls football and empower female coaches. This is now being rolled out with the support of Tracy Wrigley, WaiBOP FDO. As part of this RUAFC are supporting a junior girls tournament in September 2021. Thanks to Sam (RUAFC) and Catherine (Eastlakes) for driving this.
  • 2020 saw Ngongotahā decide they did not wish to progress the MOU – their name was more important than the betterment of football. This is disappointing however we have the set up to be able to progress forward even if it will need more time to build because the area has been recognised for a number of years it needs collaboration not less if we put footballers first.
  • Without a doubt Rotorua is at a disadvantage from having so many segmented clubs so I am delighted to report that in early 2021 Eastlake Junior Club approached us to investigate how the junior clubs and us could better develop such pathways for Rotorua by merging together. This is very exciting and with Otonga also considering. Strong and sustainable pathways are essential and what we do in the Youth and senior space is very much linked to what happens in the junior space.I’d like to acknowledge the work of Stu, Rich and others at Eastlake with regards to this and we look forward these conversations developing.
  • With the return of both Men’s and Women’s senior football, the time is right in 2021 to split senior and junior prizegiving, and to support this the Committee ran the duty day at Puarenga to raise funds to ensure something fun would be available for the junior prizegiving. Plans are progressing for this and a senior prizegiving.
    • Looking back to prizegiving 2020 a club sponsor commented it was the best, well attended they had attended and we were honoured to have Football Fern Paige Satchell attend and speak to our members, this was despite the senior prizegiving plans as a combined with the men’s under Ngongotahā not eventuating due to a lack of buy in from Ngongotahā . The Committee had voted for all to receive a small award rather than a medal for their award recognition and thanks to Sam’s tenacity and time, members received instead an individualised mug complete with our logo. This saved the club money and looked fantastic compared to generic blocks or a dog tag medal.

If I have missed anyone out my sincerest of apologies, it was not my intention but another good reason to move the AGM to February! 

To keep progressing we have to ensure due diligence is in place in every decision. This club now  has more collective knowledge of senior club administration than it has for a number of years, direction has been gently re-introduced, we are in the best position to move forward and the membership is very much part of this.  We have to ensure protections and accountabilities are in place – our constitution currently does not protect our future from all the daily things which might look insignificant or innocuous in isolation but will add up to damage the gains that have been made and will continue to be made for the good of football. Priorities needed to happen, hindsight is always a wonderful thing, however it stands that the current committee have been laying the foundations, the necessary preparations, to move forward with confidence, with certainty, with integrity, with sustainability.

Because we have to build here, for here, to be successful for longevity, this has to be aim of everyone involved in football including the governance.  A good football club develops individual’s footballing skills, it also develops a sense of belonging, grows team players and becomes a community in its own right, this is happening here within RUAFC. One size does not fit all when we are growing the membership to ensure footballers of tomorrow. Coaches have to be allowed to be authentic through their own coach development to deliver the best for football.

Football is NZ’s largest code, and with the foundations we have been able to realise over the last 2 years we now have the opportunity to grow further and develop individuals and the football overall being played here in Rotorua.  It has been a pleasure to Chair a dedicated and committed core committee, who in every decision and moment involved with club governance has put the club purpose and wellbeing at the very heart.

It is fantastic that so many are now interested in the governance at RUAFC to mean for the first time ever the positions are truly contestable in accordance with the constitution. This is how the membership gets the representation it wants, so please read the nominations, and members should take this opportunity to attend the AGM and vote on who gets to lead your club forward.

Nāku noa, nā

Rawiri White 


On 15 December 2021, a special general meeting resolved to adopt an updated constitution. This updated constitution provides the clarity and accountability that all clubs need in their governing document, it will help those who take on the responsibilities in the future and provide the membership clear guidance on what should be happening on their behalf.

It provides representation where there was not before, including giving junior members aged 16 and over, and senior members aged 16 and 17's a voice.

There is now rotation to ensure continuity and stability in governance.

We are very grateful to the work by committee members and the outside support we had to undertake this huge piece of work in a relatively short period of time. A piece of work which always centred the membership as a whole.

The updated constitution was accepted by Incorporated Societies on 17 December 2021 and is now our legal document by which the club is governed.