Sports awards must be saved
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.