Spotting the potential in budding athletes is the idea behind a new programme aimed at youth from Flaxmere primary schools.

The Flaxmere Primary Schools Sports Academy kicked off this week and involves 55 pupils from Flaxmere Primary, Iron Gate, Bridge Pa, as well as some intermediate students from Flaxmere College.

The programme is in collaboration with the Sir Graeme Avery-led trust and will take place thre full days each term at the Sport and Health Centre at the Hastings Sports Park – the first of it's kind.

It is the brainchild of Kimi Ora primary school principal Matt O'Dowda who has worked in collaboration with Marcus Agnew, from the Sport and Health Centre, and the principals of the other particpating primary schools.


"A lot of our really talented kids seem to fall through the gaps because they either don't have whanau support or don't have transport to get to sport in Hastings or things like that," O'Dowda said.

Each day they have a session on anatomy and nutrition, a session in the gym with Agnew learning about proper techniques and then they have an athletics session.

Schools nominated pupils who weren't just athletes but those with work ethics, character and what it takes to be good at anything.

Agnew, who also is Hawke's Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust health and sport development manager, said "the students have been identified as having the talent, and the good attitude and character to go with it".

"Essentially it is like casting a net over Flaxmere to identify talented youth and provide athlete development programme opportunities," he said.

"The main objective is to Inspire and lead a culture of success. Participants are developed to inspire other youth and whanau in their schools and community to follow their lead."

O'Dowda said they were hoping to track the children through to high school to see how well they did.

"It is not just going to be a one off."

He said a pupil from his school won the inter-school athletics 400m event by about 70m and caught the eye of high-performance coaches.