Football

M A Orchard’s football loving ni-Vanuatu workers are excited about their big game on Thursday.

The simple gift of a football has kicked off an event that could eventually score big in the Temuka area.

Today at 6.30pm a team consisting of ni-Vanuatu orchard workers will take on the Geraldine Football Club at Sir Basil Arthur Park in Washdyke.

The idea for the match was formed in 2018 after one of eight businessmen who lease out Temuka Holiday Park spotted a group of ni-Vanuatu kicking a football about.

Co-organiser of the game, Gibby Campbell, said the owners were so taken by the enthusiasm of the visiting apple pickers that they gave them a football as a gift.

“This year, we decided to go one step further and organise a real game for them.

“We asked if they were interested and was met with a tremendous response, but they said they play bare feet.”

M A Orchards employs 42 ni-Vanuatu who stay in different camps around South Canterbury. The labourers work in the region for two months and then move to Blenheim and Nelson for another five months, Campbell said.

“That means they’re away from their families and loved ones for seven months of the year.”

M A Orchards senior team leader Lisa Wright said the players were looking forward to Wednesday’s game.

“They are super excited. They’ve had a couple of practices and looking forward to this.

“They will be joined by a couple of guys from the orchard and they are over the moon.”

The orchard has organised transport for other workers to the match.

“We are organising a good percentage of our workers to go to the game to support the boys,” Wright said.

She paid tribute to the organisational abilities of Campbell for ensuring that the match took place.

“All I have to do is organise the boys and water.

“Gibby and the guys from Temuka Transport have done a fantastic job.”

Another match has also been organised in two weeks but this time on a Sunday, she said.

“This could be the practice run for a much bigger event in the future.”

The Timaru Herald

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