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SportsTalk: Homegrown talent helps grow Bay slalom

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Zealand U23 paddler Alex Hawthorne. Photo: Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media

The international season is underway in Europe with the Bay being well-represented at all levels in canoe slalom.

All (bar two) of the senior team competing in European championships are Bay of Plenty paddlers, and the majority of the U23 and junior team, who are currently in Bratislava for the World Champs this month, started their paddling careers on our rivers.

In the Bay we have a healthy development programme from grassroots level, as headlined by the Anchor AIMS Games, through to our Paddle Passport and Five-Star awards schemes, which take our young paddlers from beginners to acquiring the necessary skills that make them eligible for the Canoe Slalom NZ Development Squad.

While succession at the top of our sport is crucial, we must always ensure this same planning happens for key committee members and volunteers. This was evident last month when the full CSBOP executive retired after a substantial innings between them, all in key roles for driving the sport forward.
However a planned approach of shoulder tapping has ensured the handover is seamless and fresh legs are in place for the future.

Recently New Zealand celebrated Volunteer Awareness Week and the theme this year was ‘He tangata, He tangata, He tangata’ which translates to ‘It is people, it is people, it is people’ – a theme which recognises the life force of volunteering. Without grassroots helpers, our sport simply wouldn’t happen and paddlers could never advance to national or world class level.

Our volunteers work late at night, juggling other roles. They sacrifice much of their weekends, run events, fundraise, transport paddlers, officiate on the river banks, sit on committees and give their time in other ways. I would like to thank all our volunteers who ensure canoe slalom continues to thrive in the Bay and for helping our young people get the chance to represent their country on the world stage.

Alongside our outstanding force of volunteers, we have added to our talented coaching team. Matt McKnight from Ireland joins our international coaching squad of Pierre Labarelle and Caca Macova.

While we utilise coaching expertise from overseas, we are also developing homegrown coaches through the BayTrust Coachforce programme and we’d like to say congratulations to New Zealand U23 paddler Alex Hawthorne, who has been awarded a BayTrust Coaching Scholarship earlier this year.

Click here to follow results and the international racing.

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