A record 100 nominations from around the region were received for the 2022 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards, with finalists and their supporters attending the event alongside sponsors and key Wiakato supporters to hear the winners announced.

This is the third iteration of the awards, and the first time both supporters and finalists have been able to come together to celebrate the winners. 
The Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards celebrates and acknowledges community initiatives, people and programmes that aim to grow participation and deliver opportunities and spaces for communities to be active. 
Winners were announced from seven categories.
The winners were: 
Community Connection Award: Whitianga Skate School
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Get Waikato Swimming/Life Jacket Hub (Swimming Waikato)
Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award: Wahine Toa Secondary School Program (King Country Rugby Union)
Outstanding Active Space Initiative Award: SuperSmash Hubs (Northern Districts Cricket Association)
Commitment to Youth Engagement Award: Axilia Tricking & Parafed Waikato Youth Group (Joint Winners)
Community Coach Award: Sandy Schaare (Parafed Waikato)
Community Unsung Hero Award: Andrew Langman (Cambridge Athletics & Harrier Club)
Judges Honey Hireme-Smiler, Grame 'Mintie' Mead and Glyn Wooller said the calibre of nominations were outstanding, and they were impressed with the impact and results that the people and initiatives were achieving around the region. 


Full list of finalists and winners follows at the end.

2022 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Winners Blurbs

Community Connection Award: Whitianga Skate School

The Whitianga Skateboard School started with the goal of providing lessons for local kids. Enrollment has grown to over 60 children, creating a strong community vibe and positive impact on the children's confidence and happiness. Founder Sean Reilly has provided gear, food and adjustments to the classes to better meet the needs of the children, while also starting all-day Monday classes for homeschooled children and a Mums club on Saturdays. The response to the Skateboard School has been overwhelmingly positive, and has seen benefits to the community on multiple levels.

Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Get Waikato Swimming/Life Jacket Hub (Swimming Waikato) 

Get Waikato Swimming is an initiative established to support the delivery of water safety in low decile primary schools in the Waikato region. Collaboration with external agencies in the water safety space has been successful and this is evidenced by the creation of Hamilton’s first Life Jacket Hub, and an increase in primary schools, teachers, males, females and ethnic minority participation, delivering more individual lessons in comparison to Term 1 of 2022. This is the second year in a row that this initiative has won the Partnership award.

Outstanding Active Space Initiative Award: SuperSmash Hubs (Northern Districts Cricket Association)

The SuperSmash Hubs initiative utilises multiple parks and grounds throughout the Waikato to make cricket more accessible and remove the barrier of travel. Despite the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 lockdowns, the initiative reached 675 children across the Waikato in the 2021/22 season, with 140 of those participants being female. In bringing cricket to these local spaces and providing children with all the fun of cricket in one hour blocks at a location near them, it removed many of the barriers for people to participate.

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award: Wahine Toa Secondary School Program (King Country Rugby Union)

The programme made rugby more accessible to girls in secondary schools, removing barriers such as travel and game timing, and focusing on developing skills both on and off the field. This has helped to create pathways for girls to stay in King Country to play the sport and remain connected with their friends. As a result of the programme, KCRU now engages female participants from primary school through to senior level. Female rugby participation in KCRU has increased by 80% from 2021 to 2022, with a 12% increase in secondary school female participants over the same period.

Commitment to Youth Engagement Award: Axilia Tricking (South Waikato) & Parafed Waikato Youth Group (Hamilton) JOINT WINNERS

Tricking is a new age sport that combines elements of martial arts, gymnastics, capoeira, and break-dancing. Axilia is primarily based at Tokoroa High School, which is where the majority of their students come from, however they also have classes available for primary and intermediate students. These classes are run by older students from the High School. The tricking sessions at Tokoroa High School are also run by older students, and these students have been developing their confidence, communication, and leadership abilities by teaching their younger peers.

Cathy Wooller is the Youth Development officer for Parafed Waikato Youth, a group that supports young people with physical and visual disabilities. She has been in this role for several years and has made a big impact on the group’s success. Over the past year, Cathy has focused on creating awareness about the group and its offerings, which has led to an increase in membership. She has worked tirelessly to create opportunities and remove barriers for youth, and has created a welcoming and supportive environment for everyone involved.

Community Coach Award: Sandy Schaare (Powerchair Football, Hamilton)

Sandy has played a crucial role in revitalising a Powerchair Football club through his commitment to providing financial, logistical, and coaching support. Over the past year, the club has seen a significant increase in player numbers, skills, and confidence. Sandy has structured training sessions in seasons or clusters to prevent players from feeling overburdened and to allow them to pursue other sports and activities. He is also committed to his own personal development as a coach, which allows him to deliver a high-quality coaching experience for athletes.

Community Unsung Hero Award: Andrew Langman (Cambridge Athletic & Harrier Club, Waipa)

In the 2021/22 season, Andrew worked to provide a high standard of coaching and support, while also volunteering his time to support a struggling athletics club in Hastings/Napier. Andrew has also worked to develop leadership among younger athletes by involving past athletes in running the mini club and organising mentorship programmes. He has represented the club at regional, national and international events, and has fostered connections with local businesses and community organisations. Overall, Andrew is a valuable member of the Waipa community and a strong leader within the Cambridge Athletic and Harrier Club.

The finalists were:
Community Connection Award: Those people or organisations that develop programmes that create connection and a great experience for its members or participants. 
  • ConnectEd Dance Co. Community Dance Classes
  • First Kicks Expleo Program (Te Awamutu AFC)
  • Whitianga Skate School
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Two or more organisations working together to achieve a physical activity outcome goal.
  • Forming a Balanced Partnership - Youth Football Hillcrest (Unicol Waikato, Hillcrest High School)(Hamilton)
  • Get Waikato Swimming/LIfe Jacket Hub (Swimming Waikato) (Hamilton)
  • Te Pae Here Kaahui Ako - Trailer Initiative (Hamilton)
Outstanding Active Space Initiative: Any programme or initiative that's held in a space such as community halls, parks, gullies, rivers - wherever a space has been used to help people be active.
  • Ride Coromandel Bike Park - Spirit of Coromandel Trust (Thames Coromandel)
  • SuperSmash Hubs (Northern Districts Cricket) (Hamilton)
  • Youthtown's Waikato Cycling Project - Expansion Initiative (Hamilton)
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: Programmes or initiatives that are aimed at (for example) women/girls, ethnic minority groups, disability or cultural/religious groups to enable those people to be more active.
  • Into Nature School (Waipa)
  • Wahine Toa Secondary School Program (King Country Rugby Union) (Taupo)
  • Waikato Treasure Chests Dragon Boat Team - Growth & Development (Hamilton)
Community Unsung Hero: Those unpaid, unsung heroes/volunteers that have made a real difference in the last 12 months to an initiative or organisation.
  • Andrew Langman (Waipa)
  • Kerry Rennie (Waipa)
  • Sean Stringfellow (Waipa)
Community Coach: A community coach who creates positive team culture, provides a great experience and encourages fair play and commitment to Balance is Better/Good Sports principles.
  • Janet Mischewski (Thames Coromandel)
  • Sandy Schaare (Hamilton)
  • Shervan Heu (Hamilton)
Commitment to Youth Engagement: Those people or programmes who support young people (0-24), and help to grow the numbers of young people being more active. 
  • Axilia Tricking (South Waikato)
  • Parafed Waikato Youth Group (Hamilton)
  • Te Awamutu Boxing Academy (Waipa)

2022 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards - Winners

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