HOW OFTEN is it we see talented age groupers in Northland fall off the radar in their late teens and early 20s? Too often, in my view.
I write about these talented young adults each week, so I know there are plenty of them out there. But for some reason they seem to drop off as they get older.
I suppose it's not "for some reason", the reasons - or distractions - are pretty straight forward I'd say: girls, boys, partying, drinking, work, families, or along those lines.
Hopefully this new Northland Talent Hub, being run between High Performance Sport New Zealand and Sport Northland, will help keep some of these guys and girls in sport for at least a few more years.
When I was an age grouper, to be fair I was pretty average - which is why I hope these kids can stay in their sports for a little longer than I did. I was lucky to have my mother convince me to stick at it for a few more years, between ages 16-19 until the qualifying period for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics finished - but not everyone has that.
For me, all I needed was those couple of extra years to really see my potential and begin to realise it. I hope the Talent Hub can do that for at least a couple of Northlanders.
Having someone like Ady McKenzie in charge of the Talent Hub is a perfect mould. Her mindset of life balance is much the same as mine, in the sense of you can have all of the above "distractions" and still compete - it's all about balance.
People say I'm crazy for trying to fit so much into my life, but the fact is it's about balancing it all out and prioritising. For intense sporting coaches, I'm probably a bad example as I was always keeping an eye on my future beyond sport. Ultimately you can't be a sportsperson forever so you need to think of that, all while training for your sporting goals.
Brent Eastwood, Sport Northland chief executive, says there is a real need in Northland for a regional programme that develops our best sports people to prepare them to become elite high-performing athletes. And, I agree.
Bridging the gap between regional and national selection is needed, because we don't have a high-performance culture in Northland.
In the Talent Hub, athletes and coaches will get a sort of introduction into high-performance sport. By doing this Sport Northland will be equipping these young athletes and coaches with the tools to better structure their training, a train smarter rather than harder mentality.
Athletes will receive support in the areas of sports psychology, sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, physiotherapy, and athlete life where all services and support will be delivered in Northland.
The partnership with NorthTec will also see their sport and recreation department involved where athletes will be able to receive professional sports performance testing - something which is a norm in high-performance sport.
With the inaugural intake set down for May, I look forward to watching, and reporting, on these young athletes and following their progression.