By Stuart Whitaker
Te Puke Sports and Recreation Club is a finalist in this year's Bay of Plenty Sports Awards.
The club is one of four finalists in the Ebbett Tauranga Community Organisation of the Year category, alongside Whakatāne Blue Light, Rotorua United Football Club and Rotorua Mountain Biking Club.
Judges were impressed with Te Puke Sports' nomination, which included details of the installation of its new grandstand to help increase sporting engagement in the Te Puke community.
Te Puke Sport and Recreation Club president Ash Peat says it's always pleasing to be recognised ''for doing something right''.
''There are some good nominees out there but we are happy to have our hat in the ring,'' he says.
Many people were involved in the grandstand's development and securing the funding to make it happen.
''The guys did an amazing driving-force job. It's pretty good to have people like that involved and driving the club,'' says Ash.
He says the grandstand fits with the club's philosophy of providing facilities for the community to use.
''So the more it's used, the better,'' he says.
The awards are run by Sport Bay of Plenty. Sports manager Nick Chambers co-ordinated the judges.
''The club has been working closely with local business to develop the grandstand, the idea behind it being the expansion of the services they can offer and the opportunities they can offer to the community in a sporting context.
''The development of the grandstand enables quite a lot of different groups to be able to hold more events and to have more capacity to be able to deliver to the community.''
He says providing those opportunities will encourage more community members to be active through sport and recreation, and that is something that resonates with Sport Bay of Plenty.
''General community wellbeing is obviously a priority for them, and for us.''
Nick says there were 12 organisations nominated for the community organisation of the year category.
''There are a lot of people trying to do a lot of things for their community. In reality, all 12 nominations were worthy of being finalists but you've got to whittle it down somehow - the development of that grandstand, from where it's been to where it is going, was one of the things that made [Te Puke Sports' nomination] it stand out.''
There are over 40 finalists for the awards, including junior athletes, Olympians and Paralympians, coaches and community organisations.
For the first time in its 50-year history, the awards were cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 disruptions, but will resume this year as an online event in response to the Delta outbreak.
Seventy nominations were received for 13 award categories, including four new categories to recognise disabled athletes and community organisations.
Among the individual finalists for the awards are gold medallists Lisa Carrington and Lisa Adams, triathlete Hayden Wilde, CrossFit Games athlete Hiko-o-te-rangi Curtis, swimmer Bailey Conlon and rising athletics star Hannah Gapes.
Finalists in the open team category include Mount Maunganui Rugby Club Womens', who won this year's Baywide Women's Club Premiership. They play Upper Central Rugby League Stallions, Tauranga City Athletic Football Club Womens' team and Bay of Plenty Senior Mens' Volleyball, who are all vying for the Team of the Year honour. Four-time Official of the Year winner Kelly Hudson from hockey and 2018 winner Greg Rieger from surf lifesaving once again make their mark in the Official of the Year category alongside Joanie Coles from netball.
On November 19, the Bay of Plenty community will have the opportunity to come together virtually and celebrate all aspects of sport and recreation from grassroots volunteers through to elite athletes.
Nick says the awards are an important recognition of our region's achievements and resilience over a challenging period.
"Over the last 18 months we've had to contend with disrupted seasons, limited or cancelled events and the upending of competition formats. Despite the chaos, though, athletes, volunteers, clubs and organisations have managed to find a way forward and achieve great things on the local and international stage," Chambers said.
"Covid-19 has also forced us to rethink how we deliver the awards, but we're thrilled to still be able to honour and celebrate the incredible achievement of the Bay's sport and recreation community."