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Simon Gundry is a Devonport and North Shore identity, and character, who is known for calling a spade a spade. He is a director of contracting company Gill & Gundry, is an enthusiastic and active sailor (past crew-member of Ceramco New Zealand, Lion New Zealand and Shockwave) and is a life member of the North Shore Rugby Football Club.
I want to talk about our sports clubs this month. With the onset of winter, we have rugby, soccer, hockey, netball and various other sports that a lot of our kids play either through their school teams or the local sports clubs.
Schools rely on either teachers to take time out of their busy schedules to coach the kids, and/or parents to either coach or assist. The local Sports clubs rely totally on the good will of parents or people within the community for their coaching requirements. Clubs all over the country are struggling to field teams and stay open, some are having difficulties with low numbers of players and finding the people needed to run the clubs.
The other difficulty is funding. Many clubs, in the past, have relied on pokie machines to stay afloat, along with donations in the form of sponsorship from generous people or companies who are able to help. Gaming money has slowed up, so the extra money has to be found somewhere – I really worry about the future of some of these sports clubs. We have funding for upper level sports in place, but at grass roots level it’s a real struggle.
The other challenge is that the people running these clubs are getting older, and the younger people aren’t coming up to take over from the old guard. We need these people to become involved, they bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm and the old guard can’t continue forever. In saying that though, I think we need to keep some of the old traditions in the sporting clubs. For instance, at the North Shore Rugby Club, there are cups which have been awarded at Prize givings for many, many years. Some of these are in memory of founding members of the Club, and some in memory of stalwart supporters. I’m sure it would be the same at clubs throughout the country, you can’t let those traditions fall by the wayside.
New Zealand is famous for its’ Sporting teams throughout the World, our All Blacks, the Black Caps, the All Whites, Team NZ for yachting and of course our rowers. If you travel overseas, and mention you are from New Zealand, there is usually someone who is keen to talk about our great sporting teams.
All these people would have started at their local sports clubs, and been coached and encouraged by parents, teachers and other good people in the community. We need people who have played sports at whatever level, to come and help at their local clubs and pass on their knowledge to our children. North Shore Rugby Club has been very fortunate to have had former All Black great, Wayne Shelford, with the assistance of a few other former All Blacks, coaching and running holiday programmes for budding rugby players. The kids just love these coaching camps, and their skills are greatly improved by these people’s input. A lot of former top level sports people could lend a hand, maybe on committees, coaching or managing or just attending coaching sessions or games when they can. Our kids really look up to these people, and they are valuable mentors.
I believe we also need some Government funding for sporting institutions, sport is a healthy pastime for kids. The late, and much respected Judge Mick Brown used to say “Youth in sport stay out of Court”.
I have attended a couple of rowing regattas this year, on Lake Karapiro, and I could not believe the hardworking base of coaches, parents and volunteers that it took to get these 2000 odd young secondary school rowers fed and refreshed and looked after for the duration of the regatta. Without this huge volunteer base, I hate to think how these rowers could be doing what they are doing.
For many years now I have been travelling to Northland, a region I love in this country. I can’t believe the earthworks on the Brynderwyns. It seems to me that the northern side of the hills had a perfectly adequate four lane highway and on the southern side it was nothing but a piece of crap, as it’s very hard to build a decent road due to engineering challenges. Presently they are spending millions of dollars realigning the northern side of the road, and doing absolutely nothing on the southern side. If we were honest with the Northland people about wanting to see economic development in that area, we would stopping messing around with these roads and put a tunnel straight through the hills from just north of the Dargaville turnoff where the big quarry is, straight through to the Waipu straights.
I’ve been thinking about these “Think Big” infrastructure programmes, we need to be seen to be doing more of them to get our regional roads functioning efficiently. It seems to me that there are so many beautiful roads that exist in under populated areas, such as parts of the South Island and in the western bays roads between Tokoroa and Turangi. While I’m on about it we need to have a close look and get something sorted out in Warkworth, it seems like every time there is a rumour of a birthday party in that area the roads are clogged trying to get past the township.
Well, that’s it for another month. I’ll see you next month, when I will really have something to grumble about.
Channel Magazine: Issue 65 May 2016