Anchor AIMS Games event director Vicki Semple has had a busy week, fielding late entries to another record-setting tournament in September. Photo by Jamie Troughton/Dscribe Media
More than 11,500 intermediate-aged athletes will hit Tauranga in September as Anchor AIMS Games entries went on another record-breaking rampage this week.
The 16th edition of the week-long tournament has seen 361 schools register, a sharp jump from last year's record 320, with more than 50 of those entries from first-time schools.
After several comparatively flat years, rugby entries have exploded this year with the introduction of a mixed QuickRip division, while the number of hockey teams has also jumped from 92 teams last year to 115 this year.
"While the overall numbers are quite simply staggering, it's the dramatic surge in the mixed, non-traditional codes that's really exciting for us," says AIMS tournament director Vicki Semple.
"Introducing divisions like QuickRip, six-aside hockey and 3-on-3 basketball has made a massive difference to the smaller schools that don't have the numbers to form full single-sex teams.
"It means they too get to experience all the incredible things a week-long tournament with their mates can provide. It also means the Anchor AIMS Games is even more inclusive, more accessible and is well on its way to becoming an exemplar event on the New Zealand sporting landscape."
In its first year, Quick Rip - the non-contact, New Zealand Rugby-supported version of Rippa Rugby - has drawn an impressive 30 teams from all over the North Island, while the 57 boys' and 16 girls' sevens teams are also tournament records. It means total rugby playing numbers have nearly doubled, from 684 players last year to 1176 players this year.
Hockey's continued rise in popularity is evident, with the six-aside competition exploding from 56 teams last year to 85 teams this year, following the introduction of boys' and girls' six-aside divisions.
With another 31 11-aside teams, hockey's 116 teams overall makes it one of the biggest sports, joining netball (126 teams), football and futsal (162 teams in both codes) and basketball (108 teams).
This year's introduction of canoe sprint alongside canoe slalom (78 competitors) and mountain biking (199 riders) has also been wildly successful. Golf numbers have grown with a 9-hole division for the first time, while rock climbing has lifted to 161 athletes after a riveting debut in 2018.
Tennis, squash, badminton and table tennis will have their most athletes ever, as will swimming, waterpolo and sailing.
The latter has introduced the Bic class to the existing Optimist class, with entries jumping from 80 sailors to 99 as a result.
Para-athletes will again be well represented in cross country, swimming and table tennis, while 18 Pacific Island schools - from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands - will compete in rugby sevens, badminton and swimming.
Anchor senior brand manager Lee-Ann Birch was delighted the tournament had another record-setting year for entries.
“Anchor is proud to be the headline sponsor of the Anchor AIMS Games and to be supporting New Zealand’s budding athletes for yet another year,” says Vicki.
"It's no surprise that the tournament has smashed registration records with all the good things the games encompass - team camaraderie, the community support, the healthy competition and the amazing fun the athletes have.
"We can't wait to attend the event this year to help athletes unleash their natural potential by highlighting the goodness of Anchor dairy nutrition.”
- 2019 Anchor AIMS Games - Tauranga
- September 8-13
- 11,512 athletes
- 360 schools
- 23 sports
- By the numbers: badminton 239 players, basketball 1191 players, BMX 71 riders, canoe sports 78 paddlers, cross country 826 runners, football 1232 players, Futsal 740 players, golf 71 players, gymnastics 500 athletes, hip hop 360 performers, hockey 1346 players, indoor bowls 291 players, multisport 222 athletes, netball 1512 players, rock climbing 161 climbers, rugby 1176 players, squash 100 players, swimming 374 swimmers, table tennis 198 players, tennis 141 players, water polo 33 teams, yachting 80 sailors.
The 2019 Anchor AIMS Games will run from September 8-13 at a range of venues across the Western Bay of Plenty. The premier sporting event for 11, 12 and 13 year olds is a strategic partnership between Sport Bay of Plenty, Tauranga City Council and the four Western Bay of Plenty intermediate schools. Follow the Anchor AIMS Games page at https://www.stuff.co.nz/sport/other-sports/aims-games