New sports added to Aims Games pro­gramme

Coastal News - - What's On -

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.”

PHOTO/FILE

Aims Games Cross Coun­try Year 7 girls at Waipuna Park last year.

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