A pilot school holiday programme aimed at building strong sporting values, resilience and confidence in intermediate-aged girls has been rolled out in Whangārei.

The Tania Dalton Foundation, set up in honour of the late Silver Fern netballer and respected sporting personality, enabled 20 girls from Whangārei schools to take part in the three-day programme.

Participants in the pilot scheme were from Manaia View and Whangārei Intermediate Schools.

The activities were based out of the ASB Stadium and included cricket, netball, spin class and table tennis.

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Izabelle Kaka , 12, looked faintly surprised when the reporter asked if she was enjoying day two of the programme.

''Of course, I absolutely love it,'' Izabelle said.

Izabelle Kaka,12, and Ayvah McCluggage,11, are impressed with the Tania Dalton Foundation programme.
Izabelle Kaka,12, and Ayvah McCluggage,11, are impressed with the Tania Dalton Foundation programme.

She likes sports in general and plays rugby for the Horahora club and netball for her school, Whangārei Intermediate. Rugby is her favourite and she hopes to join the Black Ferns one day.

The way to get there, she said, is to keep practising, no matter how much natural talent a person has. ''The more you practise, the more you improve.''

As well as trying out different exercises and sports, the Tania Dalton programme enabled Izabelle to see inside a gym and use some equipment that was new to her.

''This is my first time in spin and I'm really enjoying it. I'd encourage other kids to get involved with this programme.

''It's fun, it's healthy - and the food is really good!''

Her school netball team-mate, Ayvah McCluggage, 11, is equally thrilled to be there. ''I'm here because I have a passion for sports, mainly netball,'' Ayvah said.

A public memorial service was held at QBE Stadium in Auckland when former Silver Ferns netball player Tania Dalton died last year. Photo / File
A public memorial service was held at QBE Stadium in Auckland when former Silver Ferns netball player Tania Dalton died last year. Photo / File

''I wanted to try all the different activities. I know Tania Dalton was a netball legend so I'm quite proud and very grateful to have this chance.''

Her favourite activity — halfway through the programme, at least — had been learning to play cricket, and how to bowl. It helped that the session ended with participants being given a nice bag of goodies.

''But I like to try new things and I did like the cricket,'' Ayvah said.

Programme co-ordinator Ant Hyde said Dalton, who died in 2017, was a firm believer in the values of sport.

The foundation wants the three-day holiday programmes to teach 11 to 13-year-old girls the power of resilience, to win or lose graciously, and to put team before self.

There were 40 applications for the 20 places in the programme held during the second week of the school holidays. Sport coaches and school staff helped make the cut.

One issue identified early on had been that many participants could not get to the programme. Hyde said that was simply resolved when he hired a mini-bus and picked them up each day.

It is now hoped the programme will be rolled out nationwide, foremost for girls from lower-decile schools who would otherwise have limited access to a range of sports and training.