Providing sporting opportunities for primary school children

Phil Devery works with eight primary schools in his role as Southern Zone sports co-ordinator.
John Hawkins/Stuff

Phil Devery works with eight primary schools in his role as Southern Zone sports co-ordinator.

Finding ways to get more primary school children into a sport is highly satisfying for Phil Devery.

He is six months into his role as a Southern Zone sports coordinator for eight Southland schools. 

Devery has a network in place to keep teachers, pupils and parents informed on after school competitions, southern zone tournaments, coaching days and other sporting activities.  

Southern Zone has an informative Facebook page and newsletters are emailed out.

"My role is to get more kids into sport and getting options to them quicker," Devery says.

"I enjoy seeing kids taking part in sport."

Schools organise their teams but if they are short in numbers for some sports, Devery can bring in players from other schools to fill the squad. If a school has too many players, Devery can place the extra players in other school teams.

Some teams are made up of players from different schools.

If schools can't field full teams, the players keen to play are placed by Devery into other teams so they don't miss out on competing.

The Southern Zone schools that Devery works with are Tokanui, Gorge Road, Woodlands, Tisbury, Rimu, Halfmoon Bay, Myross Bush and Ascot Community.

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Devery schedules Southern Zone tournaments for each term, starting off with athletics and swimming in term one and followed by cross-country, term two; Moffett Cup (includes netball and rugby), term three; and football, term four.

A coaching day at Stadium Southland and nearby sports facilities was held for the zone's Year 7/8 pupils in July. They had to try all seven sports including basketball, netball and cricket. 

Development officers from each sport held the coaching sessions and arranged short games. The children were put into groups and had set times for each sport before moving to the next.

"Some had never played some of the sports before," Devery says.

The coaching day also gave development officers the chance to see players with potential.

"We've got a lot of really good guys [coaches and development officers] in sport and they work well with the kids."

Being able to use Devery's coordinating skills have been beneficial to Tisbury School, principal Andrea Joyce says.

"It's taken pressure off teachers and increased sporting opportunities for our children."

With Devery's help, this is the first year Tisbury School has been able to arrange regular water polo (Splash Palace) and cycling (velodrome) activities for children.

Teachers and parents in the eight Southern Zone school group help each other, Joyce says.

"We [Tisbury School) can utilise other people's strengths, as well as our own."

Sport is a big part of Devery's life, particularly rugby which he has been involved with at different levels.

Devery played for the Southland under-16 and under-18 teams, refereed for 10-12 years, has coached since 2009 and is a past president of the Myross Bush Rugby Club.

His refereeing reached a peak in 2006-009 when he officiated in premier grade games.

"I've always had a passion for rugby."

His working week comprises of 20 hours for Southern Zone sport, being a farrier and training two standardbred racehorses.

His farrier skills are sought by many horse owners all over the lower South Island and on Monday, he shod eight trekking horses at Glenorchy.

Devery has a good record developing and selling racehorses, especially young stock. A lot of his horses are trialled and lightly-raced before being sold to Australia.

Horses bought out of his stable include Selby Bromac (20 Australian wins) and Marquess de Posh (14 Australian wins, including New South Wales Oaks).

In January, Devery made an important decision to finish up at Blue Sky Meats, Morton Mains, after 17 years. He worked the night shift all that time and wanted a complete change.

He didn't have to wait long before the Southern Zone sports coordinator's job came up.   

Meanwhile, Devery made the news for an act of bravery in 2009.

He and wife Liz were driving in Waikiwi, Invercargill, when they noticed a 70-year-old man being mauled by two large dogs.

Devery stopped to help the man but little did he know Liz, pregnant at the time, was going to assist. 

"I said to her, 'what are you doing, get back in the car'."

She did and Devery took on the dogs, firstly by kicking them. 

The man was on the ground with one dog biting the top of his arm and other gripping a leg.

 The dog on the man's leg ran away but the other, wearing a chain lead with a metal rod attached, wouldn't budge.

"I got the metal rod and cracked it over his head a few times and he still wouldn't let go.

"I then started whacking it over his face and he let go."

The dog ran a short distance, turned and stared at Devery.

"You could tell he was thinking about it [what to do next]." 

The dog backed away and it wasn't long before police and an ambulance arrived. The man's injuries required 27 stitches. 

Devery didn't hesitate to rush to the man's aid. He was totally focused on getting the dogs off him.

"If no one had come and there was just him and the dogs, they would have killed him," Devery says.

 

 - Stuff

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