Sports correspondant & historian
There will be hundreds upon hundreds of Western Bay youngsters up bright and early on Saturday morning, with the junior rugby season kicking off.
The most excited of the myriad of the local youngsters will be the boys and girls playing the great game for the first time in the under six grade.
Thousands of parents and other family members will pack the sidelines of the local parks, as the regions youngsters take to the fields for the first time.
As the season draws into winter cold and sometimes frosty mornings, the enthusiasm never wavers for both the youngsters and the supporters on the sideline.
On the same morning, the other major junior winter sports codes will also be in action, with thousands of volunteers in the Western Bay of Plenty giving their time as administrators, coaches, referees. Parents and family members also play their part being pressed into duty as transport providers, often ferrying multiple family members between various sports grounds. From these humble beginnings come our stars of the future.
While the major junior winter codes grab the headlines, there are a number of small sports clubs that fly well and truly under the radar of media attention.
Sideline Sid stumbled upon such a small organisation last Monday night, ferrying his grandson to the first night of the high school season at the Tauranga Target Rifle Club.
Situated at the bottom of Elizabeth Street, the participants in the little known sport engage in shooting at targets using .22 target rifles on impressively set up 20 yard indoor range.
While there has been a couple of pre-season nights for the aspiring teenage shooters – the opening night of the regular high school season, was a hive of activity with Club and Waikato association registrations forms needed to be filled out and annual subscriptions handed over.
Like all the other local junior sports codes, there were plenty of volunteers on hand to give assistance and guidance to the aspiring shooters. Target rifle shooting is certainly not a spectator friendly sport, with the participants lying prone on mats shooting at targets that are seen only by the shooters.
There was an equal mixture of boys and girls on the opening night of the high school season that runs during term two and three of the school year. For the youngsters with competitive aspirations, there are inter-school and national schools’ competitions later in the year.
However taking centre stage for Sideline Sid on the local sporting scene is the Baywide rugby competition. In the premier ranks Tauranga Sports has been steamrolling the opposition with an unbeaten season record in tow. Last weekend they beat Te Puna by forty points in a match where the home side didn’t play that badly.
The Baywide first round trophy which will be presented in two weeks time looks a formality for Tauranga Sports, who hold a 9 point lead at the top of the standings. However, the real surprise package this year has been Greerton Marist who sits in second place on the point’s ladder. After narrowly losing their first two encounters, they have strung together a run of five successive victories, including knocking over Rotorua heavyweights Whakarewarewa last weekend.
A trip to Murray Salt Stadium in Te Puke could be well worth a visit on Saturday, when Greerton front up against defending premier champions Te Puke Sports, in a match that is sure to attract a large crowd of spectators.
Seeya at the Game