Ju­niors take out the se­niors

Central Leader - - Sport - By Scott Mor­gan

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.”

Thir­teen-year-old

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

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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