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Wai Games ready to launch

Getting excited about the Wai Games are Masterton Intermediate School students Maia Harwood, left, Holly Simpson, Cohen Scott, Jayden Fennell, Sam Jonas and L’Oreale Neemia-Phillips. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Wairarapa’s own take on the annual AIMS Games event is set to attract schools from all over the lower North Island in July.

The inaugural Wai Games — for Year 7 and 8 students — is set to be held in the school holidays after Term Two and will be modelled on the national AIMS (Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools) Games competition.

Masterton Intermediate School principal Russell Thompson said the Wai Games was in no way looking to rival the hugely successful Tauranga-based event, which is scheduled for September this year.

“We are trying to add to their concept, rather than compete with or replace it,” Mr Thompson said.

“Some schools may use our tournament as a way of preparing for the AIMS Games.”

Mr Thompson said he had spoken to one of the key instigators of the AIMS Games, Tauranga Intermediate principal Brian Diver, and he was “very supportive”.

The AIMS Games attracted over 10,000 intermediate athletes last year, who competed across 21 sports codes.

Mr Thompson said those numbers were way beyond what the Wai Games was envisaging.

“While we are really keen to ensure that there is high quality competition, we want our tournament to also have a big emphasis on giving all of the kids involved a really good experience.”

Initial interest is expected to come from Wairarapa, Wellington and Hutt Valley schools.

“In time, we believe that it could grow substantially and become a key date on the calendar for intermediate schools all over the lower North Island,” he said.

This year’s event will include football, hockey, netball and rugby tens, with other codes to be added as the tournament becomes more established.

Wairarapa is well suited to hosting such an event with several top class facilities for the four codes.

Hockey will be played at Clareville, netball at the newly development Colombo Rd courts, rugby at Memorial Park, and football at Rathkeale and Wairarapa College.

The tournament will be held in week two of the holidays, from Monday, July 16 to Thursday, July 19.

Hosting the event in the school holidays frees up the availability of college students as referees or umpires.

Trust House is backing the event with a grant of $8000 to help with the set-up costs, while Wairarapa REAP is providing administrative support and creating a dedicated website.

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