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What we do > Events and Games > Games > Past events > Trans-Tasman Tournament 2011 > Meet the team > The impressions of our Australian neighbours

The impressions of our antipodean neighbours

On their arrival to Wellington the Australian teams were met with a blustering northerly wind. More than one athlete, and Head of Delegation, admitted they were slightly concerned about their planes’ ability to land on the tarmac! (Even the hardiest Wellingtonians among us have found the wind a bit hard going over the past day or so!)

Safe inside – the basketball experience

The Tasmanian basketball team made the decision to come to New Zealand a few days early, spending two days in Auckland first to sightsee. The team hit the shops buying up souvenirs, took the ferry out to Devonport, and trekked out to the revamped Auckland Zoo. All were most impressed with what they saw. The team arrived in Wellington on Wednesday morning and was the only Australian team represented at the Torch Run. Later in the evening at the Opening Ceremony one Tasmanian athlete was heard to be joining the Kiwis singing the New Zealand anthem in Maori (much to the surprise of his coaches).
“We had a ball (at the Torch Run),” says Head of the Tasmania Delegation Narelle Patterson. “It was a great start to the Tournament and the Opening Ceremony added to this. All our boys got something out of it. They’re all pretty fired up about the competition. There’s a fair age range and they don’t normally play together as a team (due to geographical distances between them) but they’ve come together so well.” 
The Queensland basketball team is also “thrilled to be here”, says its Head of Delegation, Cheryl Haack. “It’s the first time the athletes have been at a Tournament. They are seriously committed to the skills training and the games.” Indeed, watching the concentration of the athletes as they dribbled around cones on Thursday morning, it is clear they mean business!
The ACT team is a varied bunch; some athletes hold a lot of experience in overseas competition, while others have tended to play the sport for fun. Team member James McGill started off with the team in 1998 as an athlete. He then progressed to become Captain and competed at the New Zealand Nationals and the 2005 Asia Pacific Invitational Games. This time around he is calling the shots from the sideline as the team’s Coach. He is supported by Head of Delegation James Bell, who has previously coached both the ACT and Australian Special Olympics basketball teams; and fellow athlete Paul Bell, who has competed in New Zealand three times before.

New South Wales football team

Braving the weather – the football experience

On the football fields, the teams had up to five games ahead of them in the cold and wind. Once in the air, there was no telling where the ball might go! The quote of the day on Day Two of the Tournament seemed to be “as long as it doesn’t rain”. Unfortunately, the wind brought in some nasty horizontal rain, which left many spectators scrambling to get under cover!
Braving the weather on the side of the pitch sat the South Australia football team. They had just drawn four-all with New South Wales and were waiting for their next game. They were all in good spirits, despite the nerve-wracking flight into Wellington.
“The air-hostess told us it was the worst landing they’d had in 12 months, so that’s never a good sign,” Head of Delegation Tracey said. For many in the team it was their first international flight, and it’s bound to be a memorable one. All the team agreed that the landing was “a bit scary.”
South Australia Coach Danny Kane said “besides the wind, [the Tournament is] great. The team gets more opportunities to play other Special Olympics teams. It’s a great way to get experience and it’s our first international games.”
The team is required to do a fair bit of travelling as some of the players are from regional areas, five and a half hours away!
Out of the wind, in the club rooms, the Australian Capital Territory football team was waiting patiently for their very first pool game against Queensland. They had an early start before they flew into Wellington, leaving home at four in the morning to catch their flight. A relatively new team, they have only been playing and training together for three months.
Their Team Manager said it’s the first time many have played football. “They’re a lovely team and for about three quarters of them it’s the first time they’ve been overseas.”
The Coach said “We’re doing the best we can, we’re having a great time and we’re putting the effort in. It’s great for the team to experience real competition and they’re enjoying the fact that they’re competing.”
“We’ll surprise them all. We won’t give up,” he said.

For more information about the 2011 Trans-Tasman Tournament, please contact:

Sue Kysow

Events Manager

+64 3 548 9162


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