Golf boosts funding for athletes
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.
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.