I wouldn't be as involved as I am in New Zealand soccer today were it not for the impact made on me by women's soccer, and the lass pictured left in particular, way back in 1987.
Never having been to see a women's soccer game before, a top-of-the-table clash between Eden and South Auckland Rangers caught my eye in the Herald fixtures list one Saturday morning, so I thought, "Why not?"
To cut a long story short - it's expanded upon elsewhere on this site - I didn't know who this blonde midfielder was at the time, but she ran the show in a 6-0 win for what remains the best club side I've seen in this country in the ensuing fifteen years ... although Three Kings United's Premier Women's team of 1997-9 and Waitakere City's 1995 squad are a close second and third respectively!
While watching the match, I asked someone who this outstanding player was, to be told, "Michele Cox" ...
In the ensuing years of watching and reporting on the footballing deeds of the fairer sex, I have found the women's game to be a far more attractive proposition than that played by the blokes, in more ways than the obvious!!
Why? There is far greater emphasis placed on skill and technical ability, as opposed to the hundred miles an hour all-too-predictable physical battle served up by the chaps virtually every week.
Yes, there are memorable moments of individual skill and flair in many of the men's matches, but they are all too infrequent, simply because of the pace at which the chaps play the game - quite simply, too fast for their individual capabilities.
What the women's game lacks in pace and physicality, it more than makes up for in skill and technical ability, making it, for mine, a far more appealing means of appreciating the finer aspects of "The Beautiful Game".
So, to all the women's soccer players at senior level around and about, thanks - this site has been created with recognising your contribution to the game in this country very much in mind.
I'd particularly like to dedicate this site to a special group of eleven individuals, shown below.
While following the fortunes of Eden, Three Kings United, Auckland and New Zealand since 1987, the flair-filled on-field performances of, in particular, 'Chele', 'Moni', 'Mai Mai', 'JK', 'Speedo', 'Supa-Sim', 'Skalle', 'Mar', 'Simo', 'TC' and 'Zoo', have given me enjoyment, pleasure and satisfaction aplenty - not to mention a well-thumbed Thesaurus, a result of attempting to do justice to their deeds by way of the written word!
And to think I haven't had to pay a cent to watch these outstanding individuals weaving their wizardry in Lord alone knows how many games all told!!
For a special group of young women at Eden and Three Kings from 1987 to 2000, but most particularly the aforementioned eleven, what follows is a direct result of the immense pleasure I've gained from watching you guys strut your stuff on any given Sunday morning.
My thanks for your efforts, your inspiration, your friendship, your commitment and your dedication and devotion to the game, gang - I only hope what follows does you justice!