‘Delighted’, ‘marvellous’, ‘remarkable’ – these are a handful of words tournament chairperson Brian Driver uses to describe the 2016 AIMS Games which concluded on Friday.
The 13th edition of the annual tournament saw 9300 Year 7 and 8 athletes from 275 New Zealand and Pacific Island intermediate schools competing in 21 sports over six enthralling days of competition.
The 2016 AIMS Games have been hailed a huge success by the tournament’s organisers. Photos: Chris Callinan.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the success of this year’s games, they’ve created a tremendous hype right across Tauranga and have given kids an amazing opportunity to compete in competitive sport,” says Brian.
“From the schools taking part, to the volunteers and helpers, as well as the Tauranga community at large, absolutely everyone has been extremely positive with their feedback on this year’s games.
“My favourite aspect of the tournament is the fact we see kids from a variety of schools from all over the country coming together and learning to not only compete, but to compete with dignity, to win and lose with dignity, that’s a big feature for me.”
This year Tauranga Intermediate, which Brian is principal of, topped the medal table with 37 medals in total (16 Gold, 14 Silver, seven Bronze).
In second were Otumoetai Intermediate with 31 medals (eight Gold, 11 Silver, 12 Bronze) and rounding out the top three was Auckland’s Buckland’s Beach Intermediate with 26 medals (eight Gold, nine Silver, nine Bronze).
As you can imagine, Brian’s pretty chuffed with his school’s medal topping performance this year.
“The result is a reflection of our hard working staff, teachers and parents who are absolutely committed to coaching our teams and their commitment to our school.”
This year’s tournament saw competitor numbers explode by 1300 on last year, a factoid Brian describes as “a simply remarkable feat”.
He also praises the 16 sporting venues in and around Tauranga involved in the tournament, saying they all “coped admirably” with the boost in numbers.
This year’s also saw the inclusion of schools from Tonga and the Cook Island which Brian says was an absolutely marvellous experience for both the three schools as well as the tournament organisers.
“Following this year’s games we can actually see the potential growth and having more schools from the across the Pacific Islands taking part in future tournaments.”
While the introduction of three new codes this year – futsal, BMX and canoe slalom – has also proved a hit with competitors, spectators and the organisers.
“The general comment about the canoe slalom, BMX and Futsal is we can see potential for huge growth in each event. We congratulate the code coordinators for running them, they did a splendid job.”
Also new this year was the launch of AIMS TV which saw the entire six day sports tournament streamed online across four channels.
In 2015 the Games began live-streaming the tournament, so the launch of a dedicated TV channel this years seemed like the logical next step.
“AIMS TV made great strides this year, and it’s solely about the tournament moving with the times because the demand is there. I was speaking to an elderly couple who said their son and daughter-in-law were watching the futsal finals in Romania at 4.30am, which is brilliant.”
With the AIMS Games now done and dusted for another year, you’d think the organiser would enjoy a couple of days of rest and relaxation – but you’d be wrong.
“We’ve started our review processes already and looking at areas we can improve on and provide a better service to Tauranga in the years to come.
“I really want to thank tournament director Vicki Semple, she needs to be acknowledge for the huge job she does.
“Also working alongside her are our 21 code coordinators and their helpers and volunteers, without them the AIMS Games wouldn’t be a reality,” says Brian.
For more information about the AIMS Games visit: www.nzaimsgames.co.nz