Our Premier Men's team ended their 2020 “season” on Saturday 26th September with a trip across the harbour and a friendly against Waiheke United.
The average age of the squad on the day was 18.5 years old with a crew of development players getting to enjoy the atmosphere of a frat team game including 16 year olds Matt Thomas and Kaea Rangihaetea, and 15 year old Flynn Saxon.
And while many were debuting, this match also marked the end of an era with Maurie Wasi retiring from playing Men's Premier football.
Maurie joined with Springs under the helm of Neil Emblem. “He was one of my first signings and wore the Green and White shirt like his life depended on it, said Neil. A lot of players I signed at Springs have gone on to play professionally or for their country but I’m not sure I made a shrewder signing than “Mr Western Springs Maurie Wasi”.
Maurie was a Papua New Guinea international when we signed him, but all he was interested in was helping the club to get to where we felt it belonged.
Neil says he can’t thank Maurie enough for the influence he had both on and off the pitch over these last seven years, the amount of people he has affected in a positive way and just his bubbly selfless manner he brings on a daily basis has been truly remarkable.
“Maurie was my biggest ambassador and the person he is, reflects all what I wanted the club to be and has definitely become”.
Frustrated with playing in the reserves for Birkenhead United in 2012, having lead the team to premier league promotion the year before, and with his interests to progress his passion for coaching overlooked, Maurie said, “ When Neil presented me the opportunity of creating and building something new it just felt right to take that opportunity. Not only was I going to play under a top coach but also be mentored into coaching as well.”
The 2013 season, Maurie’s first season with Springs, saw Western Springs promoted from NRFL Second Division to First Division and then in 2014 Springs were promoted from First Division to Premier League.
“Back to back promotions really elevated the club’s status on the pitch and got everyone’s attention. And we were promoted as champions so trophies and medals all round. What players play for, said Maurie.
As a club, the platform was set for young aspiring players to pursue their football dreams and ambitions. Our Director of Football and First team coach wasn’t short on attracting talent. This means there is depth in the playing squad and coaching staff as well.
As a player going into the changing room and seeing coaches who have played the game at good levels, one of the top physiotherapists in the region, team managers who live the game, and all genuinely care about your football, you just want to give it your all for them. And it is so great to see that carrying on today”.
With competitive football as a player now over, Maurie is focusing on taking his coaching to the highest level he can, with his immediate aspiration to try his hand at taking a first-team in the near future.
Maurie’s passion for coaching started in Papua New Guinea when he was in Year 8 looking after his school’s U9 team. This lead him to helping out his club’s coaches prepare and take training when they had family or work commitments, and in 2004 he took Lahi Football Association’s U23 team to the Final of the Morobe Provincial Cup and won it.
When joining Springs in 2013, Maurie made sure he made the most of the opportunity to be mentored as a coach by Neil Emblem, saying “Neil has a way of getting to people’s level and understanding them as people and not just players so being able to connect with him on an individual level, I was able to see what he sees in the game and was comfortable to pick his brain and at the same exposed to his honest scrutiny on what I do. I felt he allowed me to be myself but he’d held me accountable for my mistakes, supported me when I needed it and praised me for my little achievements. I loved coaching more because of his guidance.
Then in 2018 Chris Zoricich became Head Coach, and I was given the opportunity to work alongside him over the last three seasons as Assistant Coach. I’m am so grateful for his belief in me. Zoro’s desire and strive for perfection has really helped push my organisational skills and work ethic as a developing coach. His mantra of “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” sums up what he’s all about not only as a coach but person.
He thinks about the game differently to most, which pushes us, his staff, to also be thinking differently and better, but at the same time understand what he wants as our boss. And that’s invaluable to me going forward into coaching”.
Chris never really saw Maurie too much as a player but says what he did see was a fierce competitor that could read the game well and never took a backward step. “He hasn’t changed even to this day (just got slower like all of us!) and he doesn’t need asking twice to join the first-team session when an extra player is needed! He can still be heard barking orders and demanding more from the players. He, like me, hates losing no matter what game he’s playing in” said Chris.
“Maurie is a great servant of the club and well-liked by many of our patrons. I’d personally like to thank him for his services to the club and for the loyalty he’s shown me throughout his time as my assistant, and he has also obviously had a lot of influence over the youth programme having coached almost every grade within the club!”
Maurie currently coaches the Springs 14th Grade NRF team, 12th Grade boys, U17 & U19 National Tournament teams and is the Assistant Coach to our Premier Mens First team. He also coaches our Skill Centres and Academy groups that run each term.
Maurie has already had some respectable achievements as a coach at Western Springs;
- NZ U17 Nationals Final (2017 & 2018)
- NZ U19 Nationals Champions (2016)
- Winning Weir Rose Bowl (AFF U12) 2017
- Christchurch International Cup Final (14th Boys) 2019
And outside of Western Springs;
- 13A and15A Boys Auckland College Championship titles with St Kentigern College
- Morobe Provincial Cup, OFC Champions League (Madang FC, PNG)
On behalf of Western Springs, Justin Lopes said “Maurie has been a stalwart of the Western Springs First Team for the last seven seasons. He always gives a 110% to everything he does and he has given a lot to the club, in both his player and coaching roles. It has been great to work alongside him, from Waitakere United to Western Springs and watch him grow into his coaching role. Top man, toe-poke specialist, and PNG Kapuls legend! We wish him all the best in achieving his Coaching goals.
Waiheke United 5
Western Springs AFC 6
26th September 2020
Personally, I’d like to thank everyone from clubs, coaches, teammates, friends, family, teachers and just football people, who have given me opportunities in the game and because of the game, that I never thought I’d get growing up and for making the highs and lows of playing football worth every pass, tackle and run. And if I can manage half the same experience with my coaching career, I think I’ll do alright. Maurie.