Tawa junior wrestlers take on senior role
Six junior wrestlers from the Tawa Tigers hope to defend their club’s championship title at the New Zealand club championships in Hamilton on Sunday.
The group of 9 to 12-year-olds may be young, but they have more than 100 years of experience to draw from the Tawa club’s trainers.
Head coach Desiree Craike was a national champion and has had 23 years’ wrestling experience. Even more impressively, club trainer Scott Laurenson has been involved for 55 years.
Laurenson was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to wrestling.
Spurred on by their seasoned coaches, the ‘‘ tiger cubs’’ have developed into very capable wrestlers and are confident they will have an edge in Hamilton.
Reuben Renner, 9, thought their main competition would be their rival club, Waikanae.
‘‘We had a match against them recently and they were pretty tough,’’ Reuben said. ‘‘But we still managed to get first in most of our matches.’’
Olivia Bareta-Rodgers, 9, is the only travelling girl from Tawa, but is not afraid to compete against boys her own age. ‘‘I can beat the boys sometimes, but mostly it’s fun just wrestling.’’
Despite the rough and tumble nature of the sport, it is very disciplined and safety is drilled into the young wrestlers.
Cassidy Attree, 9, said that at each practice they would do about 50 minutes of warmup before doing any wrestling.
‘‘We do push-ups, sit-ups and lots of neck stretches,’’ he said.
‘‘ It gets really hard to keep going sometimes.’’
The Tawa Tigers club has had a successful two years and was named team of the year at the 2012 Porirua Sports Awards.
The club’s senior team has won many recent titles throughout New Zealand and Australia, but because of the time and cost of previous tours, will not be attending the championships in Hamilton.
It will be up to the six tiger cubs to shoulder the Tawa Tigers reputation, and they are confident they have the claws to bring back the trophy and continue their club’s legacy.
Ready to wrestle: Tawa Tigers,
from left, Reuben Renner, 9, Cassidy Attree, 9, Olivia BaretaRodgers, 9, Bayley Latter, 9, and Finn Lovett, 12.