Nine of Northland's talented para athletes were on show during the weekend at the 2019 Halberg Games in Auckland.
At the event, held at King's College from Friday to Sunday, hordes of people aged eight to 21 years with a physical or visual impairment came together to try their hand at the 20 sports on offer including swimming, golf, athletics, wheelchair rugby, football, rowing, table tennis, archery, orienteering and taekwondo.
The Halberg Games opened with a launch celebration which featured a parade of the athletes in their regional teams, the lighting of the official Halberg Games' flame and reading of the Athletes Oath. The Northland group attended under the banner of Parafed Northland.
All Halberg Games athletes had the opportunity to apply for the ISPS Handa Talent scholarship, which is open to physically disabled young people aged between 14 and 21, who want to compete on the international stage in their chosen sport. Athletes must have competed at the Halberg Games to be eligible.
Two talent scholarships of up to $5000 were available with the aim of developing the sporting talent of budding athletes and to support them in their journey to compete on the international stage.
The event concluded with a closing ceremony at which medals and trophies were presented to athletes and teams.
"It was just awesome to see the joy in all of those participants' faces when they could compete, be with their peers, make new friends and just be challenged," Parafed Northland's Sharon Carroll said.
"It was the whole vibe of it, the athletes, the camaraderie between them, the supporters, everyone was cheering everybody on."
Carroll was team manager for the Northland group in her first Halberg Games experience. Above all, she said she was impressed with the number of sports available to disabled athletes.
Carroll described a number of sports which were altered to fit the needs of many, including a rowing machine which was made to fit virtually all kinds of disability and hooked up to a screen to show two virtual rowers racing against each other.
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"It was like for netball, instead of having two steps, you might have had 10 steps or 10 seconds [to throw the ball] ... everything was adaptable, there was no limits on anything."
Carroll said it had been a huge effort by the community to get Northland's para athletes ready for the Halberg Games and she hoped the experience would benefit other disabled athletes in the region.
"Just by going and seeing all these ideas that these coaches are using, it just gave you so many tools that you would never have thought of," she said.
"For us, [hopefully we are] able to get involved in schools more and get involved with coaches and just give them tools in how they can adapt."