Another year, another record-breaking turnout.
New Zealand's largest junior sporting festival, the NZCT AIMS GAMES, has closed off entries with more than 7250 intermediate-aged students confirmed to take part in September's week-long championships.
It's a sharp jump from last year's record 6500 competitors, with 216 schools to be represented in Tauranga from September 7-12, including Year 7 and 8 students from the length and breadth of New Zealand and several from Australia.
"We thought last year was huge, as we celebrated 10 years of the NZCT AIMS Games, but this year will be off the charts," tournament director Vicki Semple said.
"We've also had 1500 coaches and managers register and with all the supporters and parents, it means more than 10,000 people will be flooding into the city. Aside from the quality competition and life-long memories for our athletes, we're also starting to talk about a serious economic impact for the Bay of Plenty region."
The 750-strong surge in numbers equals the entire number of competitors in the very first AIMS Games, held in 2004. Among the 17 sporting codes represented will be 90 netball teams, 62 hockey teams, 79 football teams and more than 500 cross country runners. Table tennis also makes a debut this year, attracting 59 entries from 15 schools.
Several sports have been over-subscribed, with organisers having to limit entries in sports like hockey and tennis, where turf and court access is at a premium.
Once again, big schools like Tauranga Intermediate and Auckland's Northcross and Murrays Bay Intermediates have the largest team numbers but it's the interest from the smaller schools which continues to amaze Semple.
"We have 65 new schools taking part this year, many of them from passionate little sporting outposts like Auroa School in South Taranaki, Tolaga Bay Area School on the East Coast and St Joseph's Te Kuiti - they're little heartland schools with keen kids who are desperate to show they can foot it with anyone else their age in the country."