Sports awards must be saved

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Like a white knight, Porirua City Coun­cil has rid­den to the res­cue of the city’s sports awards.

It may sur­prise many to learn the awards were in dan­ger of not be­ing held this year, for the first time since their in­cep­tion in 1969.

Host Porirua Com­mu­nity Trust and main fun­der Mana Com­mu­nity Grants Foun­da­tion did not have the ca­pac­ity to fund the awards in the fu­ture, coun­cil­lors and mayor Nick Leggett were told last week.

No sports awards in a city where sport is such a cen­tral part of the cul­ture would be ter­ri­ble.

Last year’s event was a huge suc­cess. The num­ber of nom­i­na­tions was up, the en­tries were var­ied, and judges had a tough time de­cid­ing among so many fine nom­i­na­tions.

The fact that un­der­wa­ter hockey, bare­foot wa­ter ski­ing and tag foot­ball were among the win­ners spoke vol­umes for the many cham­pi­ons the city pro­duces.

It was a fab­u­lous night, with an ex­cel­lent guest speaker in Waimarama Tau­maunu and feed­back was pos­i­tive.

The awards evening brings the bulk of the Porirua sports com­mu­nity to­gether to cel­e­brate achieve­ment. The chance for bas­ket­ballers to mix with surf life­savers and foot­ballers with wrestlers, as well as ad­min­is­tra­tors and coaches rub­bing shoul­ders, can­not be un­der­stated.

How else should we recog­nise the win­ners? A write- up in Kapi-Mana News and pic­ture on the wall on the sec­ond floor of Te Rau­paraha Arena is nice, but recog­ni­tion in a more for­mal set­ting, in front of your sport­ing peers, has more value.

At the city coun­cil meet­ing last week, coun­cil­lor Ken Dou­glas said black tie din­ners were no longer fash­ion­able and there needed to be an­other look at how best to high­light Porirua’s sports suc­cesses.

He’s off the mark on the ‘‘black tie’’ com­ment – while there is a for­mal­ity to the evening, the at­tire is far from just suits and ties.

The waka ama con­tin­gent were mag­nif­i­cently at­tired in their blue shirts and swim­mer Steven Kent took the op­por­tu­nity to wear his New Zealand blazer.

The other point Dou­glas raised should be con­sid­ered. How else, aside from a ded­i­cated night like the sports awards, can we hon­our our teams and in­di­vid­u­als?

We think the sports awards are the most ap­pro­pri­ate way to do this.

Tighter rules from cen­tral gov­ern­ment has meant that the trust and foun­da­tion need to be kept apart.

Porirua Com­mu­nity Trust needs to find fur­ther fund­ing sources, which was dif­fi­cult, trust chair­man Henry Smith told us.

That’s where the city coun­cil comes in. It has ac­cess to fund­ing streams the trust may not and can set up an ad­min­is­tra­tion group or com­mit­tee to over­see the awards process and or­gan­i­sa­tion of the big night.

Though the coun­cil should be com­mended for help­ing in the hour of need, it is im­por­tant it does not dom­i­nate the awards.

The fact the coun­cil has an em­ployee in­volved in the strate­gic com­mit­tee that over­sees the event, with his links to Te Rau­paraha Arena, makes sense, as a start­ing point.

The small team at Mana Com­mu­nity Grants Foun­da­tion does an ex­cel­lent job of ad­min­is­trat­ing the web­site for the awards and col­lect­ing nom­i­na­tions. That needs to con­tinue.

Ex­ter­nal in­flu­ence is still needed, how­ever.

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