It’s been eight long years since Magic netballer Sam Sinclair was last at the NZCT AIMS Games and while much has changed, some things haven’t.
Sure, there are now double the amount of athletes at the Tauranga-based games – up to a record 9300 this year – and the 21-year-old’s netball career has soared since her appearance for Rotorua’s John Paul College in 2008.
But the excitement of the tournament hasn’t changed a bit… and neither has the John Paul coach, Coral Palmer, who now coaches Sinclair’s younger sister Molly.
“One of the questions asked was if Mrs Palmer was as tough on me as she is on the current team and the answer was a definite yes,” Sinclair laughed. “She’s very tough but she will also help you win and make you a better player!”
With 1344 netballers from 112 teams, the AIMS Games now hosts the largest netball tournament in the country, at any level.
It also has 1232 footballers from 88 teams, 888 competitors playing basketball and yesterday’s cross country attracted 772 runners, amid 21 sports.
But it wasn’t the scale of the event that Sinclair remembered from her own playing days – more the way her team pulled together.
“It was raining all week and we didn’t do so well but it was really good because the team we had an AIMS carried through right through high school and we ended up doing really well. It’s such a cool event to have for intermediate kids.”
Sinclair was able to watch John Paul beat AIMS Games first-timers Royal Oak Intermediate 26-8 in their first game and knows some future stars are on show this week.
“That’s what I’ve been telling my sister – even if you think you’re not the best player, one day you could be if you work hard. Hard work beats talent any day. I was also talking to some kids before and talking about how important it is to look after everybody in your team. It’s a team sport and no one person can win the game by themselves. You’ve got to make each other look really good and that’s the biggest thing you can learn at this age. That’s what sports do – they bring you together and make you a better person in so many more ways than just as an athlete.”
Caption: Rotorua’s Magic mid-courter Sam Sinclair at the NZCT AIMS Games netball tournament today. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
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