Waikato clubs are finalists at regional sports awards for their innovative projects

posted in: News, Recognition

Two innovative football projects by Waikato clubs and a high school have led to their short-listing for recognition at Sport Waikato’s annual awards.

Te Awamutu AFC are a finalist in the awards’ Community Connection section for creating a partnership with a local butcher to bring together family support for their First Kicks programme with the need to provide food after football.

Waikato Unicol and Hillcrest High School are finalists in in the Sport & Active Recreation Partnership section for their partnership which has boosted football participation and help develop 10 young coaches.

Te Awamutu coach and committee member Sean Stringfellow is another football finalist at the awards, nominated as a Community Unsung Hero.

The winners of the awards will be named at Sport Waikato’s awards on January 26, 2023.

Main photo: Te Awamutu First Kicks players. 

READ MORE: Sport Waikato awards >>>>

About the finalists

FINALIST | Community Connection | First Kicks Expleo Programme (Te Awamutu AFC) 

In past years, Te Awamutu would cater for 35-40 children in its First Kicks programme for 4-6 year olds.

Last year, the club identified the need to create a sense of identity through kits and to help provide a healthy, easy meal option for players and families at the end of their evening sessions

The club formed a partnership with local butchery, Expleo, who agreed to provide a post-session sausage meal.

“Once the kits had arrived, we’d organised for them to be collected from Expleo’s store, and many parents were introduced to the butchery and bought meat for their dinner that night. So the connection for Te Awamutu AFC members/parents and Expleo went full circle to helping each other,” the club said in its award nomination.

The programme led to a 200% increase in participation, with new registrations coming from neighbouring areas such as Ohaupo and Otorohanga, as well as the local community.

The club said the programme had created “unity in the space of what participation for the sport looks like in Te Awamutu.”

READ MORE: McDonald’s led (4-6 yrs.) First Kicks Expleo Program – He Waka Eke Noa >>>>

Waikato Unicol have helped Hillcrest High School retain their football programme.

FINALIST | Sport & Active Recreation Partnership | Youth Football Hillcrest (Hillcrest High School — Te Kura Tuarua o Tihipuke / Waikato Unicol AFC) 

Waikato Unicol have been working with Hillcrest High School to align both partners’ visions with Sport New Zealand’s ‘Balance is Better’ philosophy.

In the process, the partnership has managed to effectively coordinate funding applications and grounds maintenance, all whilst helping to grow youth engagement in football.

The partnership stemmed from an MoU that was first agreed to navigate Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns whilst forming a fledgling partnership.

“The kaupapa behind the partnership was around a framework that looks at community football holistically and what is important to youth players,” the award nomination explains.

“Both parties have shown a genuine desire to develop a programme over the next three years that caters to both social players and competitive players as they transition from junior football, into youth football and beyond.”

Outcomes of the collaboration include:

Participation rates: “Without the support of the club, Hillcrest High School would have folded eight teams (total of 128 players) who would not have had any connection with sport, football and development pathway.

Junior boys and girls: Competitive and social teams outperformed expectations in their respective divisions.

Senior premier girls: Came 17th in National Tournament and received Fair Play Award.

Senior premier boys: Top four ranking in Waikato.

The collaboration had also helped develop 10 young coaches with a focus on youth football.

READ MORE: Forming A Balanced Partnership – Youth Football Hillcrest >>>>

Sean ‘Stringy’ Stringfellow … nominated for Community Unsung Hero award.

FINALIST | Community Unsung Hero | Sean “Stringy” Stringfellow 

“Without his commitment to run our School Holiday programme, it simply would not exist. By him giving up his time, we have kept kids active and occupied during school holidays and opened the world of football up to youth that would otherwise not play.” — excerpt from award nomination.

“From managing holiday programmes to running weekly training sessions, liaising with local businesses for sponsorships, and coaching local college and 7th-grade teams, Stringfellow’s passion for football is clear.

“He’s a real team player, dedicated to passing on his knowledge of the game to youth and the wider community.”

READ MORE: Te Awamutu’s ‘Unsung Hero’ Sean Stringfellow >>>>

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