Juniors take out the seniors
It’s not often junior sports stars beat out their senior counterparts for a national award.
But that’s exactly what happened when the Auckland under-14 badminton team were named Badminton New Zealand’s 2008 team of the year.
Two key members of the team are top-ranked boy Riga Oud, and under-14 girls captain Katarina Sim.
Riga, 14, says receiving the award came as a bit of a shock.
“I was stoked. It was pretty surprising because we were the youngest team ever to get the prize.”
The team, made up of Auckland’s top 10 male and female players, won the northern and national under-14 tournaments, winning more than 90 percent of their games.
Riga, a Mt Albert Grammar School student, says a positive team environment is one of the secrets to their success.
“At the start we were just normal friends, but as we went on, I guess we were more like a family.”
While he’d like to make the world’s top 10 some day, Riga knows he’s got a lot of work to do before then.
“I’ve got to make the national squad first and then travel around a bit.”
Riga says the gap between national and international play became clear at a tournament in Australia last year where his northern region team took on several Australian states.
“You’ve got some not so good states, but when you play the good states it’s a whole new game.”
Kata- rina says it can be hard to fit top level sport in with school work. But the Avondale resident’s schedule includes team training, private coaching and stamina work.
“At home you do your own fitness training like running and skipping.”
Some members of the team, including Riga, will move up to under-16s this season. However Katarina is positive about the changing face of the squad.
“All the different people will mean new challenges,” she says.
Auckland Badminton development officer Cliff Freeman says the team’s will to win is particularly impressive.
“They set really high goals for themselves. The kids weren’t just happy winning. They wanted to win really, really well.”
For information visit www. auckbad.co.nz. It’s all uphill for Auckland City as they battle to make the New Zealand Football Championship final.
They crashed to a 3-1 loss against a nine-man Youngheart Manawatu at Memorial Park on Sunday in the first of two semi-finals.
While City will host the second semi at Kiwitea St at 2pm this Sunday, Manawatu take a virtual twogoal lead going into the match thanks to the scoreline in the first game.
It means Auckland need a big win to secure a final’s spot.
Jason Hayne broke the match open with a goal for
Hard to beat: Riga Oud, left, and Katarina Sim are two members of the Auckland under-14 badminton team named Badminton New Zealand’s team of the year.