Sports correspondant & historian
A story on SunLive about a Bay Rugby under 15 talent identification camp last Sunday received a thumbs up from Sideline Sid.
While over the years the Steamers and other Bay sides have punched above their weight in terms of success and progression of players to higher honours – the identification of the most promising under 15 talent in the Bay Union is a further layer in the future success of the mighty Steamers.
The emergence of professional rugby in the NPC required a more specialised approach to the game in the unions around the country. In the last decade the employment of Bay of Plenty coaching and personal development has seen a player and coach pathway evolve.
Current Steamers coach Kevin Schuler is in charge of a pathway intended to take the Steamers and the other Bay teams to the forefront of the competitions that they play in.
The Bay Union doesn’t have far to look to see a sport that has built outstanding success in the last 12 months on a player (and coach) pathway established over a decade ago.
This season the Bay of Plenty Cricket senior men’s team won all three regional and national competition silverware. The ND (Northern Districts) trophies of the Fergus Hickey Rosebowl and the Brian Dunning Cup, along with the NZ Cricket Hawke Cup, will spend the winter break in the BOP Cricket trophy cabinet before the Bay puts all three trophies on the line next season.
Appointment of a Sport Bay of Plenty Coachforce development officer over a decade ago was the catalyst for the cricket success of today.
The huge surge in the number of youngsters playing cricket in the Bay, saw BOPCA age group rep programs cemented in place, which were backed up with Bay of Plenty sub-association rep cricket.
Current Black Caps Kane Williamson and Trent Boult along with Graeme Aldridge all started their formative cricket careers in the Western Bay junior cricket ranks.
The current Bay of Plenty cricket pathway provides a way for the promising talent to forge a career in the professional game. The most exciting part for Bay Cricket is the several levels of Bay players that could play professional cricket in the near future.
While Bay first eleven members of Jono Boult, Brett Hampton and Tony Goodin received Northern Knights call-ups during the season several other Bay players were an injury of two away for Knights selection. Bay master blaster Bharat Popli who has smashed six centuries in the Bay team and Joe Carter, who blasted a new Bay record of 779 runs during the rep season, must be in the selection frame next season.
There is also another group of youngsters, who got a taste of success in senior representative cricket in the last twelve months. Dashing batsman Tom MacRury, who cemented his place in the Bay first eleven and Ben Musgrave who belted a century on debut for the Bay Development side, both got their opportunity while playing for Tauranga Boys’ College first eleven.
On a rugby note, the clash of the Baywide premier titans should attract a huge following on Saturday, when Tauranga Sports and Te Puke Sports square off at the Tauranga Domain
Seeya at the Game