In October Fita Hala guided the Auckland Vulcans U15 side to the national title for the very first time, upsetting perennial heavyweights Akarana and Counties Manukau along the way. Here’s our chat with coach Hala about the achievement.
Has it sunk in yet that you coached, what is perceived as a third-string Auckland team, to the national U15 title?
It took me a while until it clicked it. It wasn’t until we all caught up at our prize giving that I thought ‘wow we actually did it’. Every time I think about the last two games of the tournament, where we scored right at the end to go through to the final and then to win it, I still can’t believe it really.
It was the first time that neither Akarana or Counties Manukau was involved in the U15 final this year – how big was that?
I think it was awesome. To have us and the South Island in the final, that should give confidence to all the other zones, to show it doesn’t always have to be the two big zones. That should make everyone believe they can do it.
It lets everyone out there understand they have an opportunity. You don’t have to play for one of the two big zones to have a chance to win or make rep teams. This proves it can be done with anyone.
Outside of the Vulcans stuff, how did you enjoy your club season with Waitemata?
I really enjoyed it this season. We have put in a lot of work into the juniors. I had never really coached at U15 grade, it’s a good age to work with, before the boys are too developed. The boys I had this year were great to work with.
And you were heavily involved with St Paul’s College as well?
I have been involved with St Paul’s for the last four years. I have worked with the U15s and the development team, and this year worked with the second XIII to try and help the depth. We have got some good juniors coming through at the school.
Do you have any desire to move up to senior levels as a coach, or do you plan to stick to junior stuff?
My passion is development. I have been offered a few times to go up and work at those levels. It’s not my thing. I’ve always been passionate about development. I enjoy teaching those fundamentals. Senior coaching and high level stuff just isn’t my thing.