Clive premier women's rugby player Deidre Hakopa has heard talk suggesting she will continue playing until she can take the field alongside one of her granddaughters.

"Brooklyn is 13 and starts at Karamu High School next year. She loves her netball but I might be able to talk her into it," Hakopa said referring to granddaughter Brooklyn Dempsey.

Brooklyn is the daughter of Ema, one of three of Hakopa's daughters she has played alongside during a club career which began in 1994 and will continue next year. That outstanding service which has seen Hakopa play more than 230 games for the team was a key factor in her winning the Club Person of the Year award at the Clive Rugby and Sports Club's prizegiving on Saturday night.

"It was a real privilege to win the big one. There are so many others who are probably more deserving ... all I did was turn up and play," the humble Hakopa remarked.


A mother of six and grandmother of five, Hakopa, is the third female to receive the award.
Former club president and 2005 winner of the Volunteer award at the New Zealand Rugby Union awards function, Daphne Boden, was the inaugural winner in 2006 and won it again in 2015 and '16 while another long-time club stalwart, Sue McIlroy, won it in 2011 and '13.

Of this trio No 8 Hakopa is the only player. No other premier club in the Bay has had a female win the club's most prestigious trophy as often as at the Clive club.

With her Tamatea rugby league team upsetting Bridge Pa 20-10 in the first round of the Hawke's Bay competition on Saturday it was a memorable weekend for Hakopa who celebrated her 50th birthday last month. She has played league since 1995.

"People have said to me if Clive had won the competition this year I might have retired. As usual I'll see how the league goes before deciding if I'll be back for rugby next year. But it's looking good and everyone is pretty determined after missing out on the final this season. We've got a lot of young up and comers and we didn't have a lot of time to gel this season but we'll be able to give making the final a good go next year," Hakopa explained.

An administration worker for Prestige Ltd, Hakopa, is adamant her previous job as a postie and as well as her four crossfit sessions each week are the key ingredients to her lengthy union and league careers. She has also been a long-time netballer and last night her Friends team, which includes several of her former Clive rugby teammates, were playing in a semifinal of Hawke's Bay Netball's over-40s grade.

Several of them were also among 19 of her friends who accompanied her on a P & O Island Hopper Cruise from New Caledonia as part of her birthday celebrations.

"This whole year has been a bit of a milestone year for me," Hakopa said.

She played for the Hawke's Bay Tui women's rep team from 1997 until 2009 and still holds four of the team's records. They are the most tries, 21, most tries in a season, nine, most points in a match, 25, and most tries in a match with five.


The last two came during the Bay's 100-5 thrashing of Southland in the 2003 division two final on Napier's McLean Park when Hakopa scored five tries. While she accepts her first class rugby days have ended Hakopa will still play rep league for the Bay if selected and also for Ngati Kahungunu sides selected to attend the national Maori Rugby League tournament.

"They are always fun tournaments and you see some great teams there," Hakopa said.

She couldn't believe how well Tamatea played in Saturday's league win.

"Most of our players are new and we hadn't done any defensive work at trainings during the week before the match. Bridge Pa were a lot more experienced," Hakopa recalled.

"You should have seen the smiles on the faces of our coach Ritchie Eagle, manager Brenda Tawhai and her hubby John. All three of them have been involved with the club a long time so it was a great day.

"We were a bit late for the rugby prizegiving but so were some of the Tui players after their pre-season game in Palmerston North so everyone understood," Hakopa added.

The fact she is still playing three different codes, netball, rugby and league, at a reasonably competitive level as well as completing four crossfit sessions each week is enough to suggest Hakopa will take the rugby field alongside her granddaughter sometime within the next four years. Only a brave pundit would bet against it.