The 2019 AIMS Games, the sporting event which intermediate students all over New Zealand look forward to each year, is well under way in Tauranga. More than 11,500 athletes from around New Zealand and the Pacific are taking part in 23 different sports during the six-day event. On Monday morning, it was all go at the Gordon Spratt Reserve in Pāpāmoa as the boys' and girls' football tournaments got under way. For Rotorua's Mokoia Intermediate and Tauranga's Ōtūmoetai Intermediate, the tournament started with a local derby against each other. Sports reporter David Beck was there.Ōtūmoetai Intermediate have made an emphatic start to the AIMS Games Boys' Football Tournament with a 14-0 win over Bay of Plenty rivals Mokoia Intermediate, of Rotorua.
The Ōtūmoetai boys were in a class of their own on the opening day of the tournament, one of 23 different sports being held during the AIMS Games. A combination of individual brilliance and exceptional team work giving them the upper hand throughout.
Ōtūmoetai coach James Goatley said it was a great way to start the tournament.
"We're really happy. We played this team at a winter tournament a few weeks ago and we knew what they were like. It was just great to get a good win under the belt."
Despite being blessed with talented individuals, Goatley was most pleased by the way the boys played as a team.
"We're lucky that a lot of them play club football together and we've been working a lot on keeping the ball on the ground, lots of passing and it was good to see it pay off.
"We've got quite a few student leaders from the school so their respect and their attitude they bring is really helpful. They gel together really nicely. The first goal is to get out of the group, into the top 16, and then we'll go from there."
Goatley is at the AIMS Games for the ninth time as a coach and said it was "an awesome event".
"Since they brought it down to the nine-aside I think it has really improved the skill level. It's not just about how big you are, it's about how good you are with the ball at your feet. The event is great for their development."
Ōtūmoetai captain Harrison Tisch, 13, who also played in the tournament last year, said it was the best week of his life.
"It was a very good performance [against Mokoia], we did some good passing, some good control and got some good goals.
"The AIMS Games is very good. It's good experience for other tournaments."
Mokoia Intermediate co-coach Lisa Te Whare was happy to see the perseverance and positivity her side showed, despite being on the wrong side of the scoreline.
"It was a tough game, a really tough game, but we knew the opposition and how they played last year so we totally expected it was going to be a tough game.
"Our boys played right to the end, they never gave up. They kept trying and trying and they were actually quite positive afterwards, they learned a lot from the game - that's all you can ask for really."
She said the AIMS Games was useful in giving the students a taste of more intense competition, similar to what they will face when they move on to secondary school.
"They need to get game focused and I think there's a big switch from primary to intermediate and these competitions are needed to help with that transition as well as moving on to high school.
"It's about changing the mindset, being a lot more focused and learning about teamwork, game play and skill level. That's all really important, building up those skills through sport."
She said the event helped teach the students life skills as well as motivate them for a future in sport. It also helped get them get "out of their bubble".
"Staying positive is really important, especially in the face of adversity. Having that resilience and persistence - things like this really helps them with that. We try to think about what we could do better, how we can improve.
"We're so lucky to have this just over the hill from Rotorua. It's really good for these kids to play teams outside of Rotorua, that they wouldn't usually see."
Ōtūmoetai Intermediate and Mokoia Intermediate Day One Results
Won 14-0 v Mokoia Intermediate
Won 13-0 v Waiheke High School
Won 2-0 v Peachgrove Intermediate
Lost 0-14 v Ōtūmoetai Intermediate
Lost 3-0 v Peachgrove Intermediate
Lost 8-0 v Tauranga Intermediate School