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Meet the teams

North Harbour Football team

The pride and spirit of New Zealand was behind the 200-plus athletes competing in the Trans Tasman Tournament.

Representing New Zealand are teams from: Auckland, Canterbury, Hawke’s Bay, Hutt Valley, Manawatu, Manukau, Nelson, North Harbour, Otago, Palmerston North, Papakura, Southland, Taranaki, Waikato, Wanganui, and Wellington.

What did our Australian neighbours think of their time in New Zealand? Read more.....

Canterbury

The Canterbury football team is a very sporty bunch with most players involved in multiple Special Olympics sports. Seasoned traveller Barry McClure has been involved in Special Olympics for a very long time and also plays tenpin bowling. For his teammate, and brother, Hector McClure (who got married this year) the trip to Wellington for the Trans Tasman Tournament will be his first time on a plane. Ben Halliday plays football and indoor cricket (a passion he shares with his flatmates). Cam Hepburn is an excellent football player, and, apparently, is the “best behaved of the team”! Mark Forster, the goalie, can’t wait to compete in Wellington and show everyone what he’s got. Sammy Kahn swims in his spare time, while the female contingent of the team Tracey Haxell and Hayley Long are also all-rounders. Tracey is very good at basketball, and the team often loses her to various basketball events. Hayley is a very confident athlete and represented Special Olympics New Zealand at the World Summer Games in Athens.

Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay has been competing in Special Olympics since its inception in New Zealand and the football team has an average age of 38 (not including the coaches!). Danny Dromgool is the team’s oldest player and one of the longest serving members. In 1991 he went to the World Summer Games in the United States as the New Zealand goalie. Mark Cullen is another team member with more than 20 years as an athlete. James Gudsell has been training and competing since the early ’90s and travelled to North Carolina for the 1999 New Zealand football team. Shaun Crabtree has been competing 27 years and is getting married this December. Daniel Truebridge has been training and competing for the past 10 years. Matthew Sellars is 21 and one of the new members to the team. Matthew also competes at tenpin bowling. Francesca Morgan is 17 and also a new member. She has been training and competing for the last couple of years and is lucky enough to have her dad as one of the coaches.

Manawatu

Manawatu’s football team is made up of Special Olympics “all-rounders”. Co-captain Korina Sigverston has been the team goalie for the past seven years. Before that she was involved in powerlifting. The team say she rules the football field. Fellow co-captain Aron Rastrick has had a long involvement with both football and rugby, and he’s passionate about both. During the Rugby World Cup he worked as security at the Palmerston North games. The longest serving player is Jason Bailey, who has been involved since 1999 and his experience is what makes him so essential to the team. Football and basketball star Monique McEwen has taken on the role of looking after the team members, on and off the field. Matthew Westwood is the Manawatu team’s version of Dan Carter, due to his “golden boot” (not injury, thankfully). Vinnie Vaccarino is Manawatu’s newest player and has just enjoyed his first season (the team hopes he decides to keep playing!). Finally, Thomas Humphrey Rush has been playing football for the past five years and also plays basketball.

North Harbour

The North Harbour football team is ready to show the other regions what they’re made of. Anthony Rowe has been with Special Olympics North Harbour since they started, making him the longest serving player on the team. Natalie Pratt is the only girl in the side. Usually she plays for the North Harbour all girls team but is part of the team for the Trans Tasman Tournament. It is Todd Robertson’s first year playing for North Harbour and Fraser Thomas is the youngest player. Robert Glen is the oldest on the team. Hyung Hawha is the team’s striker and Korean import. Coach Simon Sharp says “all proper football teams need a foreign import, but Hyung is actually more Kiwi than me.” Kalim Umar is the organiser, who directs the team on the field.

Otago

Coached by Otago United’s Harley Rodeka, the Otago football team are very excited to travel to Wellington for the Trans Tasman Tournament. Led by Captain Luke O’Neill, all of the team members compete in Futsal (a type of indoor football) in the Otago Summer Competition. Two of the team members are Special Olympics Global Messengers: Matt Aitken and Thomas van der Lugt. Aside from football, Matt has been involved in swimming, athletics and bowling and his goal is to become a Special Olympics coach. Thomas enjoys cycling and skiing along with football. He competed at the 2009 World Winter Games winning gold and silver medals for skiing.

Papakura

Papakura’s Special Olympics basketball team is ready to show off its skills. Club and team captain Wiremu Pomare loves basketball. When he’s not busy directing the team and doing fast breaks you’ll find him on the farm milking cows. Sam Muir-James is the team clown, who happens to be an excellent juggler. On the court, he collects the rebounds. Cool, calm and collected, Api Ulugia loves nothing more than a good three-point shot. Defensive blocker Jason Wetere is a great jumper and enjoys a good game. Alongside him is Wai Kuan Kong, a defensive back. John Hall is hard working and plays as the team’s left hand attack, while Lio Nu’u covers both ends of the court. Last but not least is Brogan Grant, the team’s self-confessed secret agent, who is great at turning over the ball.

Southland

Southland’s basketball team has a mix of veterans and first-timers that are all looking forward to the tournament. Captain Michael Moyles is arguably the most experienced having been a member of Special Olympics New Zealand for 22 years and has competed at numerous events. Teammates Hamish Minty and Sherryl Saunders are also well-travelled with Hamish representing Otago in basketball at the 2009 National Summer Games, and all-rounder Sherryl Saunders a reserve for the World Summer Games in Athens this year. They are joined by Owen McDonald and Anna Frethey from the Balclutha South Otago team. For fellow teammates Damien Shelton, Abby Jefferies and Phillip O’Brien the Trans Tasman Tournament will be their first time away with Special Olympics New Zealand and, understandably, all three are excited.

Waikato

The Waikato football team members are close friends due to all the travelling they do together, even though they live quite far apart. The players are spread out through the region from Huntly to Morrinsville and everywhere in between but they get together every Sunday to train in Hamilton. Daniel Turner is the exception; living in Matamata he trains with his school team but plays for Waikato at the big games. Despite the geographical distance between the players, the team has built up a good reputation on the field as a team to beat—it won gold at the last national games. Craig Rowell is the captain and one of the longest serving players. Mark Blackett has also been playing for a long time, but sometimes misses training due to his farming commitments. Neil Prowse is the goalie and Alex Johnson has been playing for the past four years. Glen Terry and Jeremy Piercy both really enjoy the sport and are hoping to team do well in the tournament. Along with the rest of the side, Mathew King is happy to be playing against such a variety of teams in the tournament as they are used to playing the same three teams on a regular basis.

Wellington

The Wellington basketball team is looking forward to playing at home and trying out the new ASB Sports Centre. Ina Alefosio and Tim Shanahan are the two longest playing members on the Wellington team. Ina is also the oldest. Tim is excited that the Tournament is on the team’s home turf. This will be the third time he has played against Australia and he is quietly confident of the team’s ability to beat the ‘Trans Tasman rivals’ again. David Cree is the youngest member, with a lot of energy to burn! David Parks went to Athens this year with the New Zealand basketball team. Jacob Bull comes from the Wairarapa and is a very dedicated player. Wilson Stock has recently returned to Wellington after stints with Kapiti and Mana. Nathanial Tofts is a caring player who can pull a team together. Finally, Alastair Smith is by far the tallest player on the team at 7 foot tall!

West Coast Fever

The West Coast Fever is a composite team made up of athletes’ from North Taranaki, Wanganui and Palmerston North. The team met in Wanganui recently for its first practice session, playing against other teams from Wanganui. This was a good chance to try out their skills and get used to playing with different team members. A great day was had by all and the meet was rounded up with a BBQ and a swim. There is only one female on the team, Erin Austin from Wanganui, who happens to be one of the best players. The team admits that it is difficult to train given the geographical distances, but is happy that the athletes get a chance to play internationally.
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For more information about the 2011 Trans-Tasman Tournament, please contact:

Sue Kysow

Events Manager

+64 3 548 9162

 

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