HAVING placed well in indoor bowls last year, Opotiki Primary Students hone their skills against teachers for the competition. Photos supplied

OPOTIKI’S primary schools are turning out in force this year for AIMS Games.

According to Opotiki Primary School principal Tony Howe, this will be the biggest attendance year for Opotiki with five schools headed to the competition.

Held annually at Mount Maunganui, the event will begin this Sunday and runs through next week.

Opotiki Primary School, Ashbrook Primary School, Saint Joseph’s Primary School, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Waioweka and Woodlands Primary School are taking part.

Opotiki Primary School

AS Opotiki’s first school to attend the AIMS Games, Opotiki Primary School is headed over once again this year.

With 29 students competing across bowls, netball and golf, principal Tony Howe said the school usually performed well in these fields.

“Last year, we came third overall in bowls,” he said.

Howe said the school had also taken top 10 placings in golf and netball at past competitions.

With 369 schools nationwide registered in the competition, and 13,500 competing students, according to Howe, those are no small feats.

Simmon Howe, who has played for Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic this season, was on the school netball team in its first year of attending.

“The reason we do well is because our kids look forward to going every year,” he said.

Many of the students competing this year, competed last year and said they were looking forward to returning.

“We’re also very lucky to have a dedicated group of staff who coach our students,” said Howe.

He said another benefit of the AIMS Games was that staff, students and parents from the school stayed at a marae each year, so students helped with cooking, cleaning and gained overall life experience.

St Joseph’s Catholic School

IT is Saint Joseph’s Primary School’s second time competing at AIMS Games and this time they have added netball to the mix.

The school first took part two years ago, debuting with a futsal team and indoor bowls players.

This year, the school is sending 12 netball players, eight futsal players and 10 bowlers.

“It’s a great experience for the kids,” principal Raewyn Clark said.

Clark said the school alternated between an Auckland field trip and AIMS Games every two years, so it was always a new group of students who attended.

New or not, Clark said the teams had been training for the past three months, with one to four sessions a week depending on the sport.

Most of the trainings were made possible by parents, grandparents and the community at large. “We’ve had wonderful support, and the kids are all enthusiastic,” Clark said.

While the debut teams from St Joseph’s had performed well in the bowls two years ago, Clark said placings were secondary.

“As long as they enjoy it,” she said.

Clark also noted that the event would give the students a broader outlook on life, as it was an opportunity to see different walks of life, cultures and more.

Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waioweka

ARMED with new purpose-made hoodies, (back row) Herewini Kawe-Gage, Tiana Jensen-Gilmer, Jimmy Maui (front row) Jayla Pene, Kimiora Amai, Psatriahni Clay and (absent) Tahi Ropitini-Tait are ready to give their best at AIMS Games. OB4790-01

FOLLOWING its AIMS Games debut last year, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori O Waioweka is returning for another go.

The school is sending an indoor bowls team of seven students, some who attended last year.

Principal Hilda Patterson said excitement was in the air for staff and students.

“They’re all really excited and looking forward to the interaction with other schools,” she said. “I’m just as excited as the children.”

Patterson said she would be travelling to and from the competition each day with the team.

Leading up to the event, she said the team had been training hard, putting in at least one hour every week since term one.

“They’ve been training hard, and they’re going to give it their best,” she said.

The school also competed in some local inter-school bowls competitions to get a feel for
the sport in a more competitive setting.

Patterson said the school was focusing on their bowls team this year, but might consider sending a netball and golf team next year.