To encourage staff, students, Collegians and friends of St Paul’s to play weekend football, former St Paul’s 1st XI soccer coach Michael Groom started up the St Paul’s Corinthians Football Club in February.
Mr Groom entered the team into the Waikato B men’s football competition, made possible due to the strong relationship between St Paul’s and Melville United AFC, and they rounded off their first season with two draws and two wins.
The name of the team is symbolic. 'Corinthians' pertains to St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, an essential part of the school’s biblical teaching. Corinthians are also sportsmen who play fairly and for the love of the game.
Mr Groom’s enthusiasm for the Brazilian attitude and approach to football is evident in the team’s logo. “The image of Christ the Redeemer in Rio looking down benevolently, while beneath him the ‘jogo bonito’ (‘beautiful game’) is being played, captures the spirit of the team. This spirit is further enhanced by the words beneath the image, ‘Vai na fe’ (meaning ‘to go in faith’), connecting faith, football, Brazil, the Christ statue and St Paul’s,” says Mr Groom.
This ethos of the team is further encapsulated in the song they sing prior to each game. It is also a song that was sung by the school as a dedication and homage to All White Steve Sumner. The school’s rendition of the song, accompanied by organ virtuoso and honorary Corinthian Timothy Carpenter, can be viewed here
“It has been a great first season. The team has represented the school admirably and during the after-match formalities in the school’s dining hall, visiting teams have been effusive about Chef Chris Warner and his team’s exceptional culinary capacities. This is all part of the St Paul’s soccer experience for opposing teams and a palpable connection with the community,” says Mr Groom.
The Corinthians first season was supported by a number of St Paul’s staff. “Special thanks to XI football coach Sam Wilkinson and Director of Sports Development Josh Hay who have been strong supporters of the initiative from day one; also to Headmaster Grant Lander and Associate Headmaster Ainsley Robson for making it possible to purchase the spectacular Corinthians kit,” says Mr Groom.
“I would also like to acknowledge groundsman Ian Boyle, who not only plays for the team, but makes the pitch look like a Renaissance masterpiece for each game and to teacher Michael Rameka, also an integral part of the team, for taking the role of mini-van driver to away games and being an indispensable assistant to myself.”
“In addition, thanks must go to Melville United Secretary Bruce Holloway, who ensured the administrative side of things was facilitated without any fuss,” says Mr Groom.
Already plans are afoot to build upon the progress made this year. Among these is the intention to make current All White captain, premier league player with Burnley and ex-St Paul’s striker Chris Wood a patron of the team.
"There is a distinct possibility another ex-All White will play for the team in 2019 and a pre-season game has already been arranged against top northern premier side, Manakau City, who are coached by ex-All White coach Kevin Fallon. All these intentions show the sense of purpose the Corinthians have as they plan for the 2019 season," says Mr Groom.
The Corinthians are looking to add to their visibility on and off the field in 2019. If you would like to support them in any way, please contact the school.