Two more Tauranga retirement villages have offered to host AIMS Games athletes following in the footsteps of Greenwood Park residents who opened their homes and hearts to 42 competitors.

St Bernard's College in Lower Hutt was facing the prospect of not being able to compete in its first Anchor AIMS Games when the offer arrived from the Welcome Bay village.

And any nervousness that the residents and school had been feeling about the trail-blazing experiment in billeting was blown away by the warmth of the welcome for the Year 7 and 8 boys.

"The boys adopted a nana and pop for the week," college director of sport Andrew Cavill said.


It was the first time AIMS Games athletes had been billeted by residents of a Tauranga retirement village and Mr Cavill was sure it would not be the last.

"There was a bit of apprehension but now we are here and it's happening, it has been fantastic."

Games tournament director Vicki Semple said Greenwood Park had set the ball rolling and she had received inquiries from two other Tauranga retirement villages interested in billeting teams.

''It's so cool. It is a great way to bridge the generation gap and for villages to get involved in the games.''

She said it underlined how the games was a community event. A link on the games' Facebook page of TV coverage of Greenwood Park opening its doors to the boys had taken off.

''It is such a feel-good story, there are so many positives.''

She took her hat off to Greenwood Park resident Maureen Habgood who made it happen.
''What an incredible woman.''

The bonds formed over the six days was summed up by Year 7 gold medal-winning swimmer Sam Kilduff and Elizabeth Glas who hosted Sam and another swimmer.

"It was a bit hectic at first but it worked out really well," Mrs Glas said.

She said Sam had been well behaved and interesting.

"We have learned a lot and it gets you out of your retirement village routines. I would welcome them back again - they fitted in really well."

Mrs Glas said the boys quickly lost their shyness about what they liked to eat, and even helped out with the housework.

Sam confessed to being a bit nervous about being billeted by someone who might have been too strict. But Mrs Glas' welcome and the chance to enjoy village facilities like the swimming pool meant he would definitely come back.

Mr Cavill said it was the college's first time at the AIMS Games. If the boys had not been billeted by village residents they would not have been able to compete.

With no accommodation left in and around Tauranga, they would have had the huge cost and inconvenience of being forced to stay an hour away from the city.

"It would not have been cost effective."

The village with its modest daily charge proved the ideal solution.

"It has been a win-win for the boys and the residents. They have been well looked after."

Mr Cavill said a connection had been formed between St Bernard's and Greenwood Park.

"Potentially they could go back to their nan and pop."

He was not aware of any complaints during their stay that began on Sunday night and ended yesterday.

Mrs Habgood said a lot of Greenwood Park residents had a spare bedroom, so she thought "Why not".

And because the team turned out a little bigger in numbers than earlier indications, a couple of her fellow Welcome Bay Lions Club members billeted five of the boys at their homes.

Tauranga's AIMS Games
- 303 schools
- 10,139 competitors
- Staying as far afield as Waihi Beach and Rotorua