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Sports

Growing a sporting culture

“I want every single student at ACG to be engaged in sport. Everyone needs to have that opportunity. Once our students have an opportunity to compete for the school, they have a different level of pride and engagement. That’s key for us.”

When Thea Kilian started as ACG Tauranga principal last term, she asked around to find out how people perceived the school. The same messages kept coming through.

Great teaching. A personal education. Family feel.

“There wasn’t a lot of mention of our sport programme,” she said.

It’s a perception she’d like to change.

“We’re a small school, but we’re growing fast and as we develop our sports offering we need to make sure we understand and meet the needs of all the kids at school and those of our future families.”

She says the school is taking a three-pronged approach: improving and growing current sports like basketball, rowing, Futsal, netball and rock climbing; giving students the opportunities to try new sports like badminton and volleyball, both starting in Term 4; and implementing other sports that aren’t reliant on numbers.

“With sports like archery, or scuba diving, whether you have two students or 20, it doesn’t matter.”

The plan is helped by Sports performance strategist and High Performance Sport New Zealand coach Deborah Fuller who joined the team last year.

She developed an ACG Tauranga sports handbook and, alongside the school’s PE department, initiated a Pilot Sports Performance Programme that saw student athletes in Years 7-12 develop an understanding of nutrition, psychology, injury prevention, wellbeing, time management and training principles.

Former Tall Blacks captain Byron Vaetoe also came on board to grow the burgeoning basketball programme. It now has three coaches and four basketball teams.

While success will be measured by an increase in participation and improvement across the different codes, ultimately it’s about seeing students engage in sport, enjoy themselves and achieve the benefits of physical activity and competition.

“I want every single student at ACG to be engaged in sport,” Thea said. “Everyone needs to have that opportunity. Once our students have an opportunity to compete for the school, they have a different level of pride and engagement. That’s key for us.”