Golf boosts fund­ing for ath­letes

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS - By PAUL BROOKS

Castle­cliff Golf Club turned on the fine weather — with a light sea breeze — for the Mitre 10 Mega Wan­ganui Fu­ture Cham­pi­ons Trust golf tour­na­ment last Fri­day.

Twenty-two teams of four en­tered the com­pe­ti­tion with prin­ci­ple spon­sor be­ing Mitre 10 Mega Wan­ganui.

Sarah and Hay­den Gib­son own Mitre 10 Mega and are also Fu­ture Cham­pi­ons Trust mem­bers.

“We’re pretty pas­sion­ate, es­pe­cially about sport,” says Sarah. “We were do­ing some­thing sim­i­lar through Mitre 10 but we didn’t have the sport­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to choose re­cip­i­ents, so it was a no-brainer to come on board with the Trust.”

Golf teams were en­cour­aged to dress up as their favourite sports team to win prizes and an auc­tion fol­lowed the day’s play. Trust mem­ber Stu­art Kelly ran the bar­be­cue while Sport Whanganui’s Danny Jonas and Trust mem­ber Richard Mill­ward cir­cled the course in a golf cart, mak­ing sure ev­ery­one was “wa­tered”.

Mc­Don­alds Wan­ganui also came to the party with enough hot Ge­orgie Pies for ev­ery­one.

“Richard and Si­lene [Flintoff] are the key or­gan­is­ers of the tour­na­ment,” says Trust Chair Philippa Baker-Ho­gan. “It’s a fundraiser for the Fu­ture Cham­pi­ons Trust. The first thing we ever did was one of the big Billy Webb [row­ing] events, two Olympics ago. We had a din­ner and raised about $10,000.

“Since then Mitre 10 Mega Wan­ganui is our name spon­sor and we have a few busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als who give money. We’ve just had an awards cer­e­mony at the Sec­ondary School Sports Awards and it’s just un­der $50,000 that we’ve given in grants over four years.”

The Trust has a web­site and young sports peo­ple ap­ply for grants to help their sport­ing ca­reers.

“The bar is rea­son­ably high,” says Philippa. “Most of those kids would have rep­re­sented New Zea­land in some way.”

The Trust fills a fund­ing gap, be­cause un­til peo­ple get to elite level no fund­ing is avail­able and ath­letes and their fam­i­lies need to come up with the money.

“If you’re talk­ing about a world cham­pi­onship in Europe or Amer­ica, you might be look­ing at $10,000. The Trust gives them a help­ing hand to get to that level where they won’t need fund­ing.

“This is our first big fundraiser since the first one. It’s Richard Mill­ward’s baby and he’s got Si­lene Flintoff to as­sist him.”

Re­becca Benge and So­phie Brooke are two Trust re­cip­i­ents. They were help­ing Stu­art Kelly on the bar­be­cue at the tour­na­ment.

Re­becca com­petes in an eques­trian dis­ci­pline called mounted games.

“I started off do­ing show jump­ing and when I was quite lit­tle I went to Horse of the Year with my sis­ter. I wasn’t go­ing to ride, but when I got there one of the Aus­tralian rid­ers had come off and bro­ken his arm. Be­cause I had a horse there and we had some friends do­ing it they asked me if I’d ride in his place. So I did it at Na­tion­als and I was ab­so­lutely rub­bish but I had a blast and kept on do­ing it.”

Re­becca was eight then and has never looked back.

“In De­cem­ber I’ll trial to be in the Worlds team again and if I make it I’ll live in Europe for six or seven months, com­pete over there, and at the end of the sea­son do the Worlds.”

Re­becca com­peted in the Worlds this year and the Trust helped out with funds. So­phie Brooke is a kayaker. “Ear­lier this year, four of us were selected to go to the Asia Pa­cific Re­gatta in Aus­tralia. It’s a sprint kayak­ing re­gatta, and the boys Liam [Lace] and Jack [Clifton] were selected for Ju­nior Worlds in Bul­garia. The Trust helped us out with uni­forms and the trip over there.

“We just had our first re­gatta of the year in Ro­torua … and we have our next re­gatta in three or four weeks. Af­ter that is our un­der 18 se­lec­tion camp and that will de­cide who is go­ing to Ju­nior Worlds next year.”

The tour­na­ment was not without its celebri­ties, with rugby great Brad Weber one of them out on the course.

Richard Mill­ward says they were hop­ing to raise about $4000 from the day’s golf and the auc­tion.

The fi­nal tally was $7200.

PIC­TURES / PAUL BROOKS

ON THE GREEN: (from left) Si­lene Flintoff, Viv Mill­ward, Brad Weber and Ross Flintoff.

TRUST: Trust mem­bers Danny Jonas, Philippa Baker-Ho­gan and Richard Mill­ward.

SPORTS ELITE: So­phie Brooke (left) and Re­becca Benge help out at the bar­be­cue.

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