Grass roots, junior level sport is fundamental to not only creating healthy bodies and minds but enriching the overall fabric of our communities.
Bellevue Athletic Club is into its 53rd season of providing a welcoming environment for children and families. With 220 members the club is the largest junior athletics club in the Bay of Plenty, catering for children.
President Ruth Tuiraviravi says the club has done well to maintain its membership levels with so many other summer sports to compete with. "We work really hard to make the sport attractive and I know a lot of other clubs do that. I think the fact we are on a track based at Tauranga Domain really helps and that we are in central Tauranga," she said.
"It definitely helps that whole families can turn up. If all your kids are under 14 it is something that the family can take part in together.
"Even if it is not your sport, it is a great foundation to supplement other sports to keep you fit, fast and agile."
The popular Run-Jump-Throw programme run by Athletics New Zealand encouraged participation for children at the mini-club level (0-6 ages).
"Every child can take part. You don't have to be the top athlete; you can be someone who has never done it before. It teaches kids how to run, how to jump and how to throw. They are learning motor skills through having fun," Tuiraviravi said.
Elite athletes were also catered for with a transtasman challenge to be held in Auckland for 10 to 11-year-olds. Trials would be held in Auckland before a large group would compete against the young Australians.
Each year Bay of Plenty athletes were chosen to represent the combined province of Waikato Bay of Plenty to take part in the NZ Inter-Provincial Championships. Last year Bellevue's Kayli Tuiraviravi, 13, was selected and finished in the top eight in New Zealand of each of her four events (100m, 200m, long jump and shot put). Her goal was to get a medal this season.
"Margaret Sukkel, 14, is new to the club and is just a little bit faster than Kayli, so it is going to be awesome to make Kayli go faster.
"We also have Abigail Griffiths, 12, who would be top in her age group and kids going for transtasman include Connor Brown and Molly Cachemaille," Tuiraviravi said.
-Bellevue Athletics Club meets every Tuesday at the Tauranga Domain from 5.20pm. For details phone Ruth 021 0404 879 or go to www. sportsground.co.nz/bellevueathletics