The Raymond Terrace under 15 Lions are more than just a football team, they are family.
The players are a mix of boys and girls aged from 13 up to 15 and this season one of their team members is Rotary exchange student Mia Maddison, who hails from Lower Hutt in New Zealand.
Team manager Kathryn See said that the core members of the team have been together since they were aged five.
"Earlier this year one of the team members, Gabby Ford, spent three months in NZ on a Rotary exchange [sponsored by Rutherford/Telarah Rotary Club] living with the Maddison family and playing soccer with Mia in the local competition," said Kathryn, whose husband David See is coach of the Terrace Lions.
"So Mia, who is now in Australia for three months and attending St Peters College at Maitland with Gabby, is returning the favour. All the players, boys included, have been wonderful helping the girls settle in."
Mia, who plays soccer for an all ladies team called Petone in NZ, has been enjoying life in Australia having visited Sydney and Dubbo Zoo while living with the Ford family at Brandy Hill.
Kathryn said that the Lions would again feature in the finals in 2019, "as they have every year since entering the competition at U/12".
"They have never taken out the grand final, but this may be the year. And thankfully Mia will get to attend the soccer presentation night before returning to her family in NZ in September."
Next year, as U16s the Terrace team will be going to the Solomon Islands on an outreach sport trip, funded by the players and parents.
"They will land in Honiara, before heading to a village in the mountains called Betuvatu, where they will play soccer against a local school team, attend the community church and school. They will also be taking donations of books, pens, sports equipment, clothing etc."
According to tour organiser Rob Hanly, the visit will also allow the team members to experience life on a new level to see how these families deal with life in remote villages.
"The Lions will be involved with school visits as well as other community projects bringing the two cultures closer together," he said.
"The players know all about family and its this message of looking out for each others in times of need. This is a special bunch of kids that have a real spirit and a good-natured approach to life and its those qualities that will serve them well into the future."