Silver Ferns train starstruck netball students
Club and school netball season may be at an end, but national team stars are busy training the next generation of elite athletes.
On Wednesday, Kat Tuivaiti, Grace Rasmussen, Leana de Bruin and Maria Tutaia of the Silver Ferns attended Saint Kentigern College, in Pakuranga, to train young netball players.
The visit was part of the Breakfast Club's goal to have decile one school students experience sporting ventures financially out of their reach.
The Breakfast Club focuses on providing otherwise out-of-scope opportunities for decile one schools.
General manager Steve Farrelly says it's the second year of the event.
"We're getting emails from the parents now and they're saying how excited their children are. 'This is what you have done for our children', they say."
Partnering with St Kent's, the club arranged for seven schools to be part of Wednesday's on-court experience with the international netballers.
Students hailed from Glen Innes School, Glen Taylor School, Riverina School, Ruapotaka Primary School, Taumaranui High School, Bayfield School and Elim Christian College.
The excitement and anticipation was palpable as the young players warmed up before the stars arrived.
Sarah Manu, 10, of Glen Innes School, was looking forward to seeing Tutaia and asking her how much training she does.
"I'm a big fan of her," says Sarah. "It's a good opportunity for me because I'm a newbie at netball. I'm training for next year to join the school team."
Nicola Lewis, director of netball at St Kent's, says it's not just the students that benefit, as the Silver Ferns enjoy it too.
"They're so much fun and relate to the kids so well that it works both ways. They get something out of it and so do our girls."
Tutaia, who is on her way back from injury and has been named in the Silver Ferns squad for the upcoming Constellation Cup series against arch-rivals Australia, says training young players is the fun part of the job.
"It's great. This is our future. This is what we need to do to make the future brighter for netball in New Zealand."
De Bruin agrees, adding it's all about the students enjoying the opportunity.
"I grew up in South Africa, so we weren't as lucky to get South African players to come to our schools.
"That's probably why I'm passionate about doing it, because I didn't have it when I was a child."