Passion and commitment underlie diversity
From motorsport to squash, equestrian to powerlifting - there are 17 sports represented amongst the finalists for this year's ILT Southland Sports Awards.
Both the quality of finalists and quantity of sports represented are huge positives for Southland sport.
The following sports have finalists: athletics, basketball, boxing, cycling, equestrian, motorsport, netball, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, rowing, rugby, rugby league, Special Olympics, squash, synchronised swimming, touch and volleyball.
Among the nominees are world champions and medallists, history-making teams and administrators and officials who often do the unsung, but very important,, work behind the scenes.
Such a high standard of success across so many sports comes down to a few key factors.
The people involved in Southland sport have a genuine passion for what they do. Most people are ready and willing to put up their hands and support sports, whether it's as a coach, administrator, athlete, board member or anything in between.
Stags coach Brad Mooar was the guest speaker at our cocktail function last week, where we announced the sports awards finalists and he really highlighted the passion Southlanders have for sport and the contribution that plays in success.
That commitment is also revealed somewhat in the ILT Southland Sports Awards finalists through our administrators and officials categories, and we'll also be recognising those who have spent a lifetime supporting sport through the Sport Southland Services to Sport award/s, which will be announced on the night.
We are very lucky to have the support of some key community funders, most notably (but certainly not limited to) the Invercargill Licensing Trust, the ILT Foundation, the Community Trust of Southland and the Mataura Licensing Trust, who invest in a very wide range of sports. Financially, they give sports the opportunity to develop and grow in Southland and they give sports organisations continued opportunities for success, regardless of whether they are more popular sports or so-called minority sports.
The Academy Southland programme really is a huge asset to Southland's sporting scene and it's telling that no fewer than eight finalists in this year's awards have either come through the programme or are part of it.
We're really excited about the talent development space in Southland - there's a lot of work going on at the moment - and have no doubt that by continuing to invest in this area we will continue to see our sporting talent excel at all levels.
For a small province, we really do have an abundance of excellent and well-maintained sporting facilities that basically allow sport to happen on the scale that it does.
On that note, on behalf of the team at Sport Southland, I would like to congratulate Nigel Skelt, his board and the whole team behind ILT Stadium Southland. There's no doubt a huge number of finalists in the ILT Southland Sports Awards who are delighted to be back in the stadium and some of our future finalists are probably in there week in, week out as well.
It's also great that the Government has now got in behind our magnificent stadium with a financial contribution.
It really is fantastic to have this outstanding facility up and running again.
Brendon McDermott is Sport Southland's chief executive
The Southland Times