How does one become a coach in New Zealand's football premiership league? Ask Chris Greatholder, Hawkes Bay United's very successful coach.
Upon arriving from the UK nearly a decade ago, Chris naturally looked to continue playing the game he had been passionate about since his youngest age. The former Conference League player soon started to play for HBU. Three years ago, when their coach stepped back, he was approached with an offer to take on the job. Chris now admits being very proud to coach the team of the province he and his family call home.
When he sustained a wrist injury last year, Chris went to Focus Health which he knew through their sponsorship and professional support of Napier City Rovers.
'I was very impressed with the help I received and effectiveness of the treatment. At the beginning of the season just gone, we met again, this time to discuss a physiotherapy contract for Hawkes Bay United, as they came highly recommended by Napier City Rovers. I was instantly sold on Focus Health. Their obvious level of commitment and professionalism was proven at every step of the season. Having someone on board that the players trusted and who could relate to them on so many levels was priceless. The physio assigned to us was always there when needed, never begrudged any overtime and became as much a member of the team as any of our players.'
At the time of the interview, Chris openly admits that the Wellington defeat in March, which placed HBU in third place and took away the opportunity to compete in the Oceanic Champions League, is loaded with mixed feelings.
'If you'd offered me third place at the beginning of the season, I would have taken it without hesitation. But after seeing the team develop so well, overcome so many obstacles thrown at them and still keep winning, I really thought - knew - that we could have come first. I know this result is a huge success and that we've achieved much already. Yet it stings a little. Ask me again in a couple of weeks maybe,' he smiles.
And smile he should, for Chris Greatholder, youngest coach in premiership league, has managed to lead his team to their most successful result ever. Watch this space - these boys have only just started.