Cars lined the grass edges of Park Island as I drove past on Saturday morning.

The voices of parents cheering on their little ones as they made their way to the touch line filled the air.

Later in the day I heard similar calls as whistles blew when balls swished through hoops at the Regional Sports Park. Sport plays a big part in many of our lives from school netball, rugby and hockey to fun runs and for a talented few, world championship events.

The region's sporting achievements were celebrated at the Hawke's Bay Sports Awards this weekend.


Athletes swapped their sneakers and Lycra for shirts, skirts and ties. The awards highlighted the depth of talent we have in different sporting codes. Nowhere was this more evident than in the junior sportsperson of the year award. Last year's winner and world champion cyclist Regan Gough was up against world ranked swimmer Bobbi Gichard, world champion aquathon competitor Eva Goodisson and world ranked alpine skier Piera Hudson.

It was 20-year-old Hudson who took the win but what a high calibre of athletes - to me they were all deserving winners.

There were also winners at the other end of the age spectrum who had dedicated their life to sport.

Waka Leonard who has spent the past 42 years coaching rugby league was recognised for his services to sport. He has coached at every club in the Bay and not surprisingly is a life member. The 77-year-old said he did it because he loved being around young people and made the audience laugh when he said old people were boring. He intends on coaching for a few years yet. It's people like him that keep sport alive in the Bay.