It's never been a better time to be a female footballer in Tauranga.
That's because the Tauranga City United Bay SportsMed Ladies squad has had an almost-unbeaten season this year, which could see them progressing to the top-tier Northern League.
The ladies topped the Bay of Plenty in the recent regional competition and are now playing in the WaiBOP Women's Premier League against three other teams from the Bay and four from the Waikato.
Head coach Pat Wigley says their winning streak – they've only lost a single game this year – comes down to recruiting well and the “genuine, growing support from the community.”
“We've got players and supporters coming from as far away as Katikati, Rotorua and Whakatane to be part of the squad,” he says.
“They're seeing players having fun on the field, as well as playing good football.”
He says the team's phenomenal success – they recently beat Rotorua United 6-0 – isn't by chance either.
“It comes down to good planning, good organisation, and a great team culture.”
Although there have been women's teams in the past, there wasn't one last year. Pat is hoping by laying the groundwork now, the women's squad will remain a permanent fixture on Tauranga's football scene.
Already they have players from the team helping to coach under-13s at Mount Maunganui and Papamoa.
“It's about building those player pathways,” says Pat.
If the team takes out the WaiBOP competition, they'll be able to challenge their Northland equivalent, with the winner moving into the Northern League – and cementing their position as the region's top club.
For more information on Tauranga City United women's football, or to get involved, visit www.tcuwf.co.nz