Days after hosting the largest concert in its history, Taupō was chosen by New Zealand Football as the venue for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Olympic men's football qualifying tournament to be held 16–25 March after it was decided the event would not be played in Fiji.
The tournament will feature the top eight men’s U23 football teams from the Pacific region; including the New Zealand squad which may include five current All Whites. The tournament will be played at Taupō’s Owen Delany Park and will decide which team will qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.
Mayor Rick Cooper says the District is delighted to be selected to host the tournament. “This confirmation follows years of hard work and dedication from our grassroots footballing community in Taupō, Waikato/Bay of Plenty Football and New Zealand Football and it’s so fantastic to see this sort of collaboration producing these results. Council staff have been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure things have been as easy as possible for this to happen and to show what wonderful facilities our District has.”
Taupō is well regarded for hosting international sports teams and recently looked after Wales, Ireland and ex-world champions South Africa during Rugby World Cup 2011. “This will be another chance for our District, and the North Island in particular, to get in behind a major footballing occasion for New Zealand,” says Mayor Cooper. “With the success in the 2010 Football World Cup it will be great for our community to witness the future of the “beautiful game” right here on our doorstep. Our thanks goes to everyone from the OFC officials to the guys who mow the parks. This will be one elite event that will be a true inspiration to our District’s youngsters for sure.”
District Events Manager, Nick Reader, says the Oceania Football tournament represents a real coup for Taupō. “We are usually more known for our international endurance events, so it is fantastic to have gained a world class team sport tournament like this. Taupō events are ‘on a roll’ and we will continue to seek new and exciting events for 2012 and beyond.”
This event follows on from the hugely successful Taupō Summer Concert which featured the double international line up of the Doobie Brothers and Little River Band. Nearly 14,000 people flowed into the Taupō Amphitheatre on the banks of the Waikato River on Saturday 4 February for the concert, the largest event of its kind in the town’s history. Promoters Taupō Summer Concert Ltd says the event went without a hitch and will be back next year with another big name artist.