Why Auckland sportspeople are soft

JUSTIN LATIF
Last updated 05:00 30/11/2012

The city of sails truly comes alive in summer and for sporting folk there is a veritable abundance of options to fill the long warm evenings in our fine city.

But not only is Auckland the perfect sporting playground for the lean and athletic, it also has the largest pool of resources, population and sporting facilities.

They range from the Millennium Institute on the North Shore, to the world class cricket facilities at Eden Park, to the hockey turfs and athletic tracks dotted around our suburbs.

Aucklanders have few excuses when it comes to having places to hone their skills. So why is it then that we don't dominate every domestic and provincial competition?

The inhabitants of the Auckland out-number every other city by at least two or three times, yet somehow other centres seem to produce the majority of our country's best athletes.

While I don't begrudge other towns for their time in the sun, it confuses me why our domestic successes in codes like rugby, cricket and netball are so irregular.

As I write this, I can imagine what my South Island cousins would say.

Soft, arrogant, lazy are just some of the barbs they would fire our way. But if we remove the pettiness and anti-Auckland bias from the equation, what are the concrete factors affecting those in blue and white?

If I consider our top performing athletes from this year, people like Daniel Carter, Richie McCaw, Lisa Carrington, Storm Uru and Nathan Cohen immediately come to mind.  What they all have in common is their down-to-earth nature, hard working ethics and their up-bringing in small rural towns.

Obviously there is something about the simple life of growing up on a farm or in a small town with few indoor distractions like malls or cinemas.

What can Auckland sport coaches do for their young city-slicker charges so they grow some backbone and mental toughness?

From my brief foray into rugby coaching I'd say we spoil our young people too much. They cry too easily and have an entitlement complex which hinders teamwork.

I realise I'm starting to sound like some old coot, but perhaps the old school values of hard work and self-reliance, that so many rural youth grow up with, could be imparted on their city cousins to better effect.

And I guess schools could play a role in this, instituting some extra life skills training or character development into the curriculum. Whatever the answer, if Aucklanders could learn to harness the secrets of their country bumpkin counterparts, teams like the Blacks Caps or Warriors might lose their flakiness and really start to perform to their obvious potential.

If you have any ideas why Auckland doesn't produce as many superstars as rural New Zealand let me know.

- Auckland Now

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