Prebbleton Football Club has joined forces with Christchurch United Football Club to provide a better pathway for its players and grow the sport in the Selwyn township.
Club president Shannon Gilmore says that combining forces will provide a stronger platform for football to develop in Prebbleton, which currently relies on a group of volunteers.
“This will future-proof our club,” says Gilmore. “Our home will remain at Prebbleton Reserve, but our teams will also get access to Christchurch United’s great facility, coaching expertise, resources and networks,” says Gilmore.
The president adds that the Christchurch United Academy will provide a terrific additional pathway for the Prebbleton players who are keen to get into a high-performance programme.
Christchurch United board chairman Malcolm Hinman is looking forward to a strong collaboration to support football in Prebbleton and to extend the footprint of Christchurch United across the region.
“We already have a strong community player base at our historical home at Spreydon Domain, and we are keen to share our football expertise and philosophy with the players and coaches in Prebbleton as well,” says Hinman.
The chairman says that Christchurch United Academy Director Colin Williamson and his professional coaches will also provide coaching education for the Prebbleton volunteer coaches where required.
Prebbleton has been fielding teams in the local junior grades for over a decade, but has not been allowed to register Prebbleton teams in the Mainland Football Youth and Senior grades, which has forced the board to look for a partner club.
The alliance with Christchurch United will enable Prebbleton FC to field youth and senior teams under the Christchurch United banner, but retain their own identity.
“Under the agreement, our players will now be able to continue to play in older age-groups, but in our own colours on their own Prebbleton home ground,” says Gilmore, whose senior teams currently play in the Sunday leagues, but will now have an option to register for a Saturday league under the Christchurch United flag.
“We had been speaking with other clubs, but they basically just wanted to absorb our teams. Christchurch United encouraged us to keep our own identity, which made this a very attractive opportunity,” says Gilmore
Hinman says that Christchurch United is keen for Prebbleton footballers and their families to enjoy football at the Prebbleton Reserve across all age groups, “and if they have the talent and desire, there is also an option to look at an Academy pathway”.
Gilmore says it was refreshing for him to hear the clubs shared the same passion and philosophy about developing young players.
“So I am confident this will be a really successful partnership.”
Gilmore says he founded the club over a decade ago in response to some local children being bullied for playing football at school.
“Initially, there was a lot of opposition in the community and even threats when we started the club, but Prebbleton has grown rapidly and a lot of the new blood want to play football.”
“The club is getting bigger and bigger and this collaboration will enable us to take Prebbleton FC to the next level.”