With a firm nod to the future, Anchor AIMS Games organisers have announced an exciting lineup for next year’s intermediate-aged tournament in Tauranga.
The 2019 event will feature a number of new events, taking the total number of sporting disciplines to 25. Among the new codes is mountain biking and traditional Maori ball game Kī-o-rahi, while basketball and rugby have mixed divisions added, in the form of 3×3 basketball and Rippa Rugby.
A new canoe sports code has also been introduced, with canoe racing (sprint) added to the existing canoe slalom event.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the additions reflected the changing sporting landscape in New Zealand.
“This isn’t about making it the biggest; it’s about making it the best,” Semple said. “We want to be as inclusive as possible and we want to give small country schools the chance to compete on the same level as big city schools.”
The success of mixed 6-a-side hockey in 2014 was a huge driver for the basketball and rugby expansion – the 16 mixed hockey teams that first year has since grown to 56. Futsal was also introduced in 2016 – and the indoor football alternative has gone from 23 teams to 61 in that time.
Kī-o-rahi’s inclusion was also a nod to the growing number of kura schools attending the AIMS Games.
“It means schools that might not be able to field a full rugby sevens squad, a football team or even have enough players for a basketball or netball squad won’t be disadvantaged. It’s also reflective of the way traditional sports in New Zealand are having to evolve, so they can stay relevant. We’d like to think these changes are helping us stay ahead of the curve, taking us towards being an exemplar event.”
Nearly 10,900 athletes attended this year’s AIMS Games in September, representing nearly 330 schools from around New Zealand and the Pacific.
Mountain biking’s introduction has been paved by the excitement of rock climbing’s debut this year and BMX’s inclusion in 2016, and aided by Mountainbike Tauranga’s recent success hosting the North Island secondary school championships at Summerhill Recreational Park in Welcome Bay.
It gives multisport athletes another competitive element at the tournament, while paddlers will also get a double crack with canoe racing and canoe slalom partnering up, aligning their code to the format used at the Youth Olympics.
“It’s vital that kids at this age don’t specialise too early – they need to try as many sports and pastimes as possible and develop all-round skills and enjoyment,” Semple said. “That’s a massive driver for us, to give our competitors as many options as possible and also expose them to other sports they may not have experienced before.”
The 2019 Anchor AIMS Games will be held from September 8-13 in Tauranga.
2019 codes: Badminton, Basketball (boys, girls and 3×3 mixed), BMX, Canoe Sport (sprint and slalom), Cheerleading, Cross Country, Football, Futsal, Golf, Gymnastics (including AeroDance), Hip Hop, Hockey, Indoor Bowls, Ki O Rahi, Mountain biking, Multisport, Netball, Rock climbing, Rugby (boys, girls and Rippa), Squash, Swimming, Table tennis, Tennis, Water polo, Yachting.