Competitors from local high schools got to shine at the NZ Secondary Schools Olympic Wrestling Association’s (NZSSOW) National Championships.
Hosted by Te Atatu Peninsula’s Rutherford College, it was the first time in several years that the prestigious event took place in Auckland. Around 80 athletes from across the country participated, with a strong contingent of 20 West Aucklanders. The competition was fierce, but Rutherford College triumphed, taking out the top spot for the best-performing school.
The National Championships was a fantastic opportunity for talented locals, says Michael Nola from NZSSOW. And all the excitement was streamed live on YouTube.
Wrestling is an ancient sport and featured in the original Greek Olympics. However, he adds that while Olympic wrestling once enjoyed a high profile in New Zealand, it has recently slipped out of the public eye.
According to Michael, wrestling is great for young people. It’s a physically demanding sport that requires strength, power and fitness. ‘Olympic wrestling gives youngsters a sense of discipline, self-confidence and respect for their peers,’ says Michael.
And it’s a sport that caters for all shapes, sizes and skill levels. Competitors are matched with opponents of their age and weight, reports Michael. Not only does it improve balance and coordination, but it also develops young people’s strategic thinking in high-pressure situations.
The National Championships are usually held in venues outside Auckland. However, Michael says that having a local event meant more Westies could participate than ever before. ‘Sending kids across the country is expensive,’ says Michael. ‘Rutherford College was delighted to host last year’s event, which meant more locals had the opportunity to shine,’ he adds. Even better, it allowed families to get involved and cheer their kids on.
The Your West Support Fund assisted with some of the administration costs. ‘Hosting a national tournament is a big deal,’ says Michael, ‘and it was much easier to pull it off with the funding.’
The money helped with administration costs, including transport, venue hire, match officials and, most importantly, medals for the winners.
Rutherford College is once again hosting this year’s National Championships. And with the experience of top-flight competition behind them, West Auckland’s school Olympic wrestlers are confident of repeating their success.