As a child, I loved going away to competitions.
The whole vibe of a tournament is something else.
The excitement could start a good couple of weeks before actual competition day and the high from the event could be felt for a week afterwards, particularly if you did exceptionally well.
Winning and doing better than you had before, of course, was always the aim but it wasn't the be all and end all to measure the success of your competition.
The team camaraderie cannot be beat. You're there, with your like-minded teammates, representing your school or club, supporting each other. When you're not playing or on stage, you're cheering others on from your area as well - even if they were your enemies in the last game, you of course want locals from your area to represent your home well.
Memories of my own tournament experiences came flooding back to me last week, covering the amazing talents on show during AIMS Games.
This year's 15th Anchor AIMS Games was the biggest yet. There were 10,851 athletes representing 326 schools in 22 sporting codes, the largest sporting event for 11-13-year-olds in the Southern Hemisphere.
Competitors came from throughout New Zealand, as well as Australia, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
The first event I covered last week was cross country. From the moment of arriving I became nostalgic, remembering how much I loved going away on sporting or kapa haka trips.
I spoke to many talented kids in the week of AIMS Games, young athletes who were focused and were destined for success in the future. Athletes like young Renee Carey, a Tauranga Intermediate student who not only took gold in the cross country, but also in multisport. Her parents, coaches and principal were so proud.
I had nothing like the AIMS Games to take part in when I was at intermediate, which was well before the inception of this event 15 years ago. Kids today should be extremely appreciative they have such a massive sporting event to take part in.
The AIMS Games were born on a road trip to Napier in 2003 when Brian Diver, principal of Tauranga Intermediate, and his Ōtumoetai Intermediate counterpart, Henk Popping, were discussing what they could do to elevate the image and perception of NZ AIMS (The New Zealand Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools).
A competitive sports idea was brought up and a year later it was held, with 17 schools taking part. This year was Diver's last as chairman of the AIMS Games Trust, as he is retiring from his position and as principal of Tauranga Intermediate, which managed to send him off with success - winning the most medals and finishing top of the table.
What a great event the AIMS Games is. I can't wait for my own children to reach intermediate-age and take part so they get to experience the atmosphere of such an amazing tournament.