Welcome to Eastern Suburbs AFC

The winter season is underway!

For all 2021 training timetables and game information, simply click the "Player Information" menu option and select your grade. Your 2021 grade is the age you/your child will turn in 2021.


For In-House draws, click "Fixtures & Grounds"

Kate Sheppard Cup Semis, here we come!


Another outstanding, classy performance from our Women's team on Thursday night. A 2-0 win over Western Springs sees our Lilywhites advance to the Semi-Finals of The Kate Sheppard Cup. In just two weeks time we'll be heading to the Capital to take on Wellington United. 

It's the 'Battle of the Bridge' this weekend for both our premier teams. Our men's and women's teams are back on home turf this Saturday & Sunday and both taking on Nothern Rovers in their respective competitions. It's a must-win for both as we near the end of the winter season.

Openness, trust and a special bond - the ingredients for the OlyWhite’s success


After a history making campaign with the OlyWhites at the Olympics, we caught up with the one and only S&C Coach, Sunz Singh for a post Olympics debrief whilst he has a little spare time in MIQ this week.


On his first Olympics experience, “It was unreal, taking in everything you see as a kid about the Olympics and thinking - wow this is it! But at the same time, you have a job to do. We knew we had something special within our group and we knew we could do something special and I think that was evident with what happened”


Olympics through a global pandemic has not been without its challenges and Sunz, discussed some of these dynamics, such as not having access to facilities like a gym and not being able to freely move. “If you need to go somewhere, you all go as a team, you have to keep together and always travel in your bubble. Having to make do and adapt and move on - make the best with what you had, where you had. 


With so many highlights from the OlyWhites campaign, for Sunz it was watching from the sideline and seeing things coming to play that we’ve never seen before from NZ Football. “That we could play like some of the best in the world and that we could take on some of the best in the world. Seeing what we needed to do, coming to life.” And then, seeing the pros like Chris Wood and Winston Reid behave with the team. Sunz describes “From the training field, to the dining hall, everytime we’re together it was quite inspirational watching them lead and getting onto the level of our younger players and letting them in. Whilst they come from the best leagues in the world, they behaved very much like normal kiwi guys!”


So what was it that made this group so special? For Sunz, “Openness, trust and a special bond” were the magic ingredients for this team. We created from the outset a family setting, our environment became ‘home’.” 


And his most treasured memento from the Olympics - the pounamu, gifted to all NZ Olympic athletes in Tokyo. “You can trace it back to where it was carved. And all of the OlyWhites team’s pounamu has been carved from the one stone. So this team will always be connected in this way, even though no two stones are the same.” 




And lastly, some advice for our Lilywhites, “After almost 2months together as a team both in NZ and then in Japan. It takes a special type of person to do what these players have done - and its purely through the discipline and the focus they’ve shown for that amount of time.” So to our Lilywhites, stay true to your goals and beliefs. “What you can take from this group of OlyWhites players, is that they are so laser focused, have a strong vision and belief and don’t get distracted.”

Upcoming Premier Fixtures




Get out and support both of our Premier teams this weekend!


Kate Sheppard Cup - Quarter Final:


Northern League:






Lilywhites abroad! - Life in camp with OlyWhites

Team Manager, Simon Hilton and S&C Coach, Sunz Singh 


We caught up with Simon Hilton, ESAFC Chairman and OlyWhites Team Manager and S&C Coach, Sunz Singh to see how they were getting on in Atsugi, Japan as the team continues their Olympic campaign preparations. 

What are conditions like in Japan?

With Japan being in a 'state of emergency' the team are confined to their hotel and training grounds. Not all bad though, as the team are occupying two hotel floors exclusively. We move between the floors via a service lift only and have our own dining room. This ensures we aren't using or being exposed to any other hotel areas. 

What's a typical day like?

Each day involves a Covid test and daily measures (for the players), then breakfast, followed by a gym or rolling session. Then lunch and in the afternoon, players receive treatments or have coaches meetings. 3pm is a snack, then a pre-training meeting before departing for training at 4pm each day. The team returns from training in the evening for showers and dinner.
The team have enjoyed a couple of sushi nights together and Coach Sunz has mastered chopsticks!

What has been a highlight so far?

Our first game against Australia and seeing the work the boys have done come to life. Its a long way to go, but a good start and we've got a great bunch of guys who are coming together well!

Looking ahead to the start of the pool games. What's the plan?

We have another game against Australia tonight (Thursday 9pm NZST) and then head into Olympic accommodation tomorrow. For the first two games, the team will be based in Kashima, rather than the Olympic village. Unfortunately our team won't be attending the Opening Ceremony as our first game is the night before and we will be in tournament mode.

All the best team! The Lilywhites are right behind you and are super proud of our Lilywhites abroad!

And the winner is…


Congratulations! You’ve won the Ultimate New York Pizza feed for your team, worth $200 - thanks to the legends at Sal’s Mission Bay. Enjoy! ⚽️🍕😋


Thanks for all the entries and if you’re feeling hungry, drop-in on the team @salspizzanz




Check out the ‘News’  tab in the navigation bar for our latest press releases and news! 

Keeping up with the Lilywhites

Here's how to ensure you’re keeping up-to-date this season with all things Lilywhites.  


Weekly email newsletter with key dates, news and info. This is emailed every Thursday evening from Please check this isn’t not going into your junk folder and mark as ‘safe sender’ or add it to your address book so you continue to receive it.

If you aren’t currently receiving our weekly newsletter and would like to, please email and we’ll add you in! 


Read All about it!

The Latest ESAFC Weekly Newletter Click Here


The ESAFC Mobile App

Specific ‘on the day’ reminders, notifications, training or game changes. Download from the App Store or Google Play


Social Media

Follow us on social. See links in the menu bar on the left-hand side of this page.


Team & Game enquires

Please contact your Grade Co-ordinator. Their contact details are found under ‘Player Information’ tab and in the relevant Grade.

For other enquiries, please contact the administration team.

Key Dates

In-House Festival Dates  

Sunday 27th June, 8th Grade Boys, Madills Farm, 9am – 12pm
Sunday 4th July, 11th Grade Boys, Madills Farm, 9am – 12pm
Sunday 4th July, 12th Grade Boys, Madills Farm, 1pm – 4pm
Sunday 8th August, 7/8/9 Grade Girls, Madills Farm, 9am – 12pm
Sunday 8th August, 10th – 14th Grade Girls, Madills Farm, 1pm – 4pm

School Holidays 
There will be NO IN-HOUSE on 16th/17th or 23rd/24th July due to school holidays. There will be NO JUNIOR OR COMMUNITY YOUTH NRF games on 17th/18th July or 24th/25th July. There will be NO NRFL YOUTH/CHAMPIONSHIP games on 17th/18th July.

NZF Skills Centre Accredited


The Lilywhites are delighted to have been awarded NZ Football accreditation for our skills centre across all age grades!



#Lilywhites #Development

Y-License Accreditation



We are so excited to be acknowledged by Northern Region Football for being one of the six clubs in the region to attain our Y-License Accreditation. Alongside this, we are the ONLY club who have achieved this across both Boys and Girls.

A huge moment for our club that we are extremely proud of!

Our Technical Director Darren Bazeley acknowledged this accomplishment and stated that "Receiving the Y-Licence is a great achievement for our Football Club. There has been a lot of hard work over the past few years from all of the staff to help build our club into one of the best Football Development environments in New Zealand.

We have a lot of members in both the Community and Talent Development pathways and are really focused on delivering an enjoyable and enriching Football experience for all of our Players and Coaches, assisting them to reach their full potential and goals.

Receiving this Y-Licence will enable us to build on this hard work and continue to be the best we can be."

#Lilywhites ⚪️🟡

ESAFC & Fencibles United: Resource Partnership Model 


Fencibles United AFC and Eastern Suburbs AFC are delighted to announce the establishment of an exciting collaborative resource partnership between the two clubs. 

This partnership has been created to meet the ever-increasing challenges that football clubs are facing in delivering quality programmes and experiences for all of their members and stakeholders.  The innovative partnership is aimed at utilising shared resources to enhance all aspects of the club from social football through to recognised player and coach pathways.  Whilst the partnership will bring the two clubs closer together, a large focus will be placed on preserving and respecting each other’s unique identities.


NZ Football have introduced the FIFA Club Licensing system in recent years with the overall aim of raising the level of club football. One of the key goals in that process is to increase the level of professionalism in club football through strengthening their technical and sporting development.

A significant component of this criteria is the recruitment and development of a suitably qualified Director of Football supported by qualified coaches in each age group. By successfully meeting these standards clubs are awarded licensing status which provides quality assurance and other benefits to their members in terms of consistent access to certain levels of competition. 

Successfully meeting and sustaining a Club License requires a significant amount of human and financial resourcing in the short and long term.  The sustainability of these resources and programmes is a huge challenge for all clubs and requires fresh thinking and a different way of approaching the business demands of club football.


The financial impact of the COVID virus has added greater relevancy to developing new practices and strategies to not only ensure the long-term viability of sporting organisations but also to allow clubs to keep evolving and delivering improved programmes and experiences. The resource partnership model being embarked on between Eastern Suburbs AFC and Fencibles United is part of the long-term visions of both clubs and sustainability plans.


As part of the first steps in forming this resource partnership, ESAFC Director of Football Tony Readings will be appointed to jointly carry out this key leadership role for both clubs, overseeing all football matters from July.  This role will be pivotal across both clubs in establishing the partnership and the sharing of resources.  Whilst this partnership will grow and evolve over time, the initial focus will be on knowledge sharing at different levels, distribution of qualified coaches and community coach education.  


“At Eastern Suburbs we have provided substantial investment to develop well-resourced player and coach pathways, strong administration, targeted community and female development.  We are excited to extend the reach of our learnings and resources to help benefit even more players and coaches by partnering with Fencibles United in a way that will positively impact approximately 4000 players between both clubs. We are very much looking forward to working with Fencibles United AFC to collaborate to find improved solutions, develop enhanced opportunities for our members, and continue to grow football and playing numbers in our respective catchment areas. This new resource partnership model is a fresh chapter in club football and will enable both clubs to contribute more significantly to the growth and development of football in New Zealand.”

 (Simon Hilton, ESAFC Chairman).


“I am very excited about the opportunities that the resource partnership between Eastern Suburbs and Fencibles United Football Clubs presents. This collaborative partnership will have a greater positive impact on a larger number of players, coaches and other important club members and stakeholders.  Whilst the clubs will work together to enhance the experience of their respective members, it will also be a key priority to preserve the unique identities of both clubs and build on their proud histories to help lay a strong foundation for both the current and future generations.” Tony Readings (Director of Football ESAFC and Fencibles United).


“This new model is an exciting and innovative way of working which will allow both clubs to leverage off each other’s strengths and to learn collaboratively. To enable this relationship to flourish and for the good of football in both our local region and New Zealand, there needs to be a mind shift from viewing a neighbouring club as a competitor to embracing them as a supportive partner that can enable both clubs to provide better quality experiences for all of our members.”(Aaron Carson, Fencibles Chairman)


“Northern Region Football is supportive of any initiative in the club space which aims to deliver a sustainable and high-quality experience for club members of all ages and stages.

“We certainly applaud and support this joint approach which better utilizes the high degree of expertise and resourcing available to deliver an increased level of service in a far more efficient model. The collaborative thinking in breaking free from traditional club structures for the good of the region is a superb outcome for our sport.” (Steven Upfold, NRF GM Football)

The Vision and Role of Eastern Suburbs AFC

In a recent interview, Chris Ruffell (the chairman of Eastern Suburbs AFC) outlined the vision and key goals for our club. 








Chris Ruffell commented: I'm often asked, 'what's the goal for Eastern Suburbs, and is the National League and our winter premier teams the focus of our club?' 

"I can understand these questions as we enjoy what to some may appear as two very different roles and potentially conflicting tasks under the Lilywhite banner:

  • On one hand, we have a crucial role in and with our local community
  • While at the same time we embrace and nurture highly competitive premier teams, both male and female

Chris went onto say: "the answer is very simple: our club is focused on delivering an enjoyable and enriching football experience for each and every single Lilywhite...regardless of their age, ability, footballing motivations and gender. As such our community and premier player roles are neither competing or exclusive, rather the two roles are compatible in delivering that enriching experience. The following should help explain this further:

"We jealously guard our role in the local community...with in excess of 2,600 Lilywhites we have a significant community role by providing exercise and participation opportunities of our members, we are also part of the very fabric of the Eastern Suburbs catchment area. Nothing gives me more pleasure than being at Madills Farm on a Saturday morning to see our grounds full of our members enjoying playing their football games, but also they along with their friends and families connecting as a community.

"For those Lilywhites who come through our ranks and are more motivated to 'kick-on' and want to maximise their footballing ability we are committed to providing the best and most resourced pathway in New Zealand which will allow them to achieve their goals. For some that may lead to university scholarships in the United States, for others contracts with overseas clubs not to mention national honours, including playing for the Football Ferns and the All Whites. 

So, this explains how we deliver to our 'enjoyable and enriching' promise to our community members and our members who strive to achieve at higher levels.

"We committed to entering the National League and the associated National Youth League in late 2015 for the simple reason: to extend our Eastern Suburbs pathway into the highest level of club football in this country. Sure we enjoy winning games and titles, but this is never our ultimate goal for entering the ISPS Handa Premiership. Don't get me wrong...we thoroughly enjoy being the current National League title, holders, however what surprises some is securing that honour was not our objective at the start of the season, nor did we assemble a squad to ensure we delivered the Premiership title, rather it was a by-product of our 'kiwi first' and development strategy. I acknowledge in the short term we need to draw on players from outside our Lilywhite community, but our longer-term goal is to have our National League squad dominated by players that have come through our pathway. We have set strict KPI's that demands our National League squad members are increasingly (year on year) drawn from the ranks our winter Premier squad.

Our woman's Premier team who are the Kate Shepard Cup titleholders are under similar KPI's, they have a significant number of squad members who have come through the Lilywhite pathway ranks.

Finally, we have developed a style of play which runs through the footballing strategy DNA, based on procession, developing passing and on-the-ball skills rather than the 'long ball' lump it up the front to some speedster strikers playing style. Again, this game strategy runs from our Premier teams through our various age grades to help foster playing abilities and allow the pathway to seamlessly advance our members into the prestigious Eastern Suburbs Premier teams.

Chris Ruffell (ESAFC Chairman)

#pathways #development