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Bouncing into new season

AND GONE: Border's Oliver Hooper sets his sights on the tryline, chased by Ratana players in their Under-8s game on the Springvale fields.PHOTO/030515WCSMKIDS5
AND GONE: Border’s Oliver Hooper sets his sights on the tryline, chased by Ratana players in their Under-8s game on the Springvale fields.

It was a warm and sunny Saturday as hundreds of Wanganui children got their winter sports off to the perfect start at fields around the city.

For the Wembley Park football fields, to the Laird Park netball courts and the Springvale Stadium rugby fields, teams of all skill levels competed.

young At Wembley, around 160 youngsters aged 4-6 took part in the opening day of the First Kicks programme.

Divided up across 16 mini-fields into four “houses”, named after local identities Dalby, Eades, Keegan and Francis, the kids had their first run-around in a football environment.

After being almost unable to cope with the demand in their first two seasons, co-organiser Jason King said the activities on registration day run smoother with parents who are familiar with it helping out.

“Makes it a little easier to organise,” he said. “It’s a good turnout. Certainly the next age group up has grown [in numbers], which shows what we’re doing is working.”

At Laird Park, it was a madhouse of netball team colours and bibs as 72 primary school squads, 40 secondary school team’s swept on and off the court in their various opening day tournaments.

Alongside the school teams for 9-year-olds and above, there were also 30 senior club squads taking part in their grading games.

The veterans in the busy office at the end of the courts said several teams, especially in A Grade, often go on from being opening day winners to claiming the championship.

And just like their Tasman Tanning Premier fathers and uncles, the old club rivalries were being settled by the juniors at the Springvale Stadium fields.

Ratana, Border, Marist and a host of others were all represented from Under 6 “Rippa” rugby through to the Under-13s.

By Jared Smith – Wanganui Chronicle

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