New sports added to Aims Games programme
The Anchor Aims Games have just got bigger with the inclusion of new codes announced for the 2019 event.
Organisers of the intermediate-aged tournament, which will be held in Tauranga from September 8-13, will feature 25 sporting disciplines.
Among the new codes are mountain biking and traditional Ma¯ ori ball game kı¯-o-rahi, while basketball and rugby have more divisions added, in 3x3 basketball and Rippa rugby.
A new canoe event has also been introduced, with sprint racing added to the existing slalom event.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the additional codes reflected the changing sporting landscape in New Zealand.
“This isn’t about making it the biggest — it’s about making it the best.
“We want to be as inclusive as possible and we want to give small country schools the chance to compete on the same level as big city schools.”
The success of mixed six-aside hockey in 2014 was a huge driver for the basketball and rugby expansion. The 16 mixed hockey teams that first year has since grown to 56.
Futsal was also introduced in 2016 and the indoor football alternative has risen from 23 teams to 61 in that time.
The inclusion of kı¯-o-rahi is a nod to the growing number of kura attending the Aims Games.
“It means schools that might not be able to field a full rugby
sevens squad, a football team or even have enough players for a basketball or netball squad won’t be disadvantaged,” Semple said.
“It’s also reflective of the way traditional sports in New Zealand are having to evolve, so they can stay relevant. We’d like to think these changes are helping us stay ahead of the curve, taking us towards being an exemplar event.”
Nearly 10,900 athletes attended this year’s Games in September, representing nearly 330 schools from around New Zealand and the Pacific.
The introduction of mountain biking was aided by Mountainbike Tauranga’s recent success hosting the North Island secondary school championships at Summerhill Recreational Park in Welcome Bay.
The code allows multisport athletes another competitive element at the tournament.
“It’s vital that kids at this age don’t specialise too early — they need to try as many sports and pastimes as possible and develop all-round skills and enjoyment,” Semple said.
“That’s a massive driver for us, to give our competitors as many options as possible and expose them to sports they may not have experienced before.”
Aims Games Cross Country Year 7 girls at Waipuna Park last year.