Stu­dents aim for games

Te Puke Times - - FRONT PAGE - By STU­ART WHITAKER news@tepuke­times.co.nz

The dis­trict’s ru­ral schools are head­ing to next week’s An­chor AIMS Games in force. While Te Puke In­ter­me­di­ate School will have the largest num­ber of par­tic­i­pants from lo­cal schools, ru­ral schools are de­ter­mined not to let their pupils miss out on the mas­sive sport­ing event in Tau­ranga.

Te Ranga School bat­ted well above its weight last year, fin­ish­ing 14th in the mixed six-aside hockey, the sec­ond Bay of Plenty school be­hind win­ners Te Puke In­ter­me­di­ate, and is look­ing to do at least as well this year. The team has a mix of rep play­ers and novices.

“This is our third time par­tic­i­pat­ing,” says prin­ci­pal Bren­dan Wil­son. “Orig­i­nally we did bad­minton and this is sec­ond year in hockey.”

He says that, as the school’s in­ter­me­di­ate class grows, he hopes to di­rect more re­sources to al­low greater stu­dent par­tic­i­pa­tion.

Rangiuru School, with a roll of 39, is devel­op­ing a tra­di­tion in ta­ble ten­nis — and will this year be send­ing three play­ers.

Year 8 pupil Ky­ron Bi­dois is go­ing to his sec­ond AIMS Games and will be joined by year 7 stu­dents Lo­gan Fowler and Tris­tan Long.

The tra­di­tion can be traced back to a grant from Sport Bay of Plenty that was used to buy a ta­ble.

“We are a small school and the cool thing about ta­ble ten­nis is, it isn’t a team event,” says prin­ci­pal Mike Gul­lick. “Most of the time we don’t have enough kids to have a rugby team or a hockey team — but this works out re­ally well for us be­cause we don’t want them to miss out be­cause we are a small school.” He says Ky­ron is one to watch. “He’s by far the best player in the school — I sup­pose you know you’ve done your job when they start beat­ing you.”

Pon­gakawa School also has a pupils at­tend­ing AIMS Games for the sec­ond time.

In­door bowler Ai­dan McGet­ti­gan, who plays for a se­nior men’s team in Puke­hina, fin­ished 12th last year.

“We have high hopes for him this year,” says deputy prin­ci­pal Mike Judd.

A three-strong gymnastics team has mem­bers who have put in strong per­for­mances in re­cent Te Puke com­pe­ti­tions and the school will also be com­pet­ing in girls’ fut­sal, mixed hockey, mul­ti­sport, per­for­mance group and ta­ble ten­nis.

“It’s also a good ex­pe­ri­ence for the stu­dents to be in­volved in such a big sport­ing event and a good chance for them to play against other schools from all

around the coun­try.”

tama­rakau prin­ci­pal Andrea Dance is in a sit­u­a­tion in

stark con­trast to a year ago.

The school will be send­ing a 17-strong in­door bowls team. Andrea started in her role last week, com­ing from the al­most 1300-stu­dent Al­bany Ju­nior High School that sends up to 300 stu­dents to AIMS Games.

“It doesn’t mat­ter how many chil­dren you send, the ex­pe­ri­ence is the same. Just to be part of an event like that gives them a taste of the ca­ma­raderie that big sports events can give chil­dren. It doesn’t mat­ter the size of school, they all get the same out of par­tic­i­pat­ing.”

Tak­ing part in in­door bowls gives all el­i­gi­ble stu­dents the chance to be part of the event.

“Our num­bers are small, so

we can’t have a net­ball team or a foot­ball team, as much as we would love to, and that is a goal — but bowls gives a chance for ev­ery­body, it doesn’t mat­ter what level of abil­ity they are at.”

Nikau Priest from Te Kura Kau­papa Maori O Te Matai played golf at last year’s AIMS Games and fin­ished mid pack.

“He was happy with that,” says mum Ang, who is also school prin­ci­pal. He will be joined this year by fel­low golfer Wil­son Sim­monds.

Ang says that while Nikau has continued to play golf over the past 12 months, a knee in­jury and other sports means he hasn’t played as much.

Te Puke In­ter­me­di­ate School has en­joyed suc­cess at pre­vi­ous AIMS Games, win­ning the boys’ sevens com­pe­ti­tion two years ago and com­ing fourth last year, and win­ning the mixed six-a-side hockey last year.

Rugby and net­ball acad­e­mies at the school mean there are high hopes in those sports, es­pe­cially boys’ sevens where many mem­bers of the squad played in the te Puke Tai Mitchell Shield-win­ning team.

The boys’ and girls’ seven teams have starred in a video to pro­mote AIMS Games.

There will also be stu­dents com­pet­ing in boys’ bas­ket­ball, cross coun­try, boys’ fut­sal, gymnastics, in­door bowls, per­for­mance group, the newly in­tro­duced rock climb­ing, squash and ta­ble ten­nis.

Te Ranga School’s AIMS Games hockey team goal­keeper Josiah Hunger­ford with team mates, from left, Danika Wil­son, Kay­den McCluskey, Bevin Pugh, Thomp­son Wini­ata, Aca­cia Birch, Leilani Wini­ata, coach Me­gan Richards, Lilly Woolsey and Joshua Wil­liams.

Te Puke In­ter­me­di­ate sevens player Rico Kelly at the ACC SportS­mart pro­gramme that is part of a video pro­mot­ing this year’s AIMS Games.

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