With the region’s winter sports season having drawn to a close for 2016, Unison’s annual Unison Medal Ceremonies for Hawke’s Bay’s junior rugby, netball and hockey players are now complete.
Last week, junior hockey players were the final recipients to take to the stage to receive their Unison Medal, which recognises excellence, both on and off the field. These were presented by New Zealand Black Stick, Emily Gaddum (nee Nailor), who vividly recalled her experiences as a young player.
“When you are young, you believe you can achieve anything – and it’s this belief in yourself that plays a big part in how far you can go.
“I got a real thrill out of being a part of this Ceremony, and seeing how proud these young players were when they received their Medal.”
Hawke’s Bay’s Hockey Manager, Andrea Cullen said the partnership with Unison had grown from strength to strength again this season.
“Unison’s support continues to make a huge difference to our junior hockey programme – in terms of both participation rates and lifting the overall quality of the programme we can offer.
“It’s continually recognised that great players of any sport start at the grass roots level, and with the calibre of programme we now offer, there is no doubt that some of the country’s future Black Sticks will be from here in Hawke’s Bay.”
Unison Group Chief Executive Officer, Ken Sutherland, said the Unison Medal had become a highlight of the season for many young players across the region.
“The Medal Ceremony started back in 2009, as part of our initiative supporting grass-roots rugby, and we’re thrilled that we have now been able to extend this to our junior netball and hockey players.
“We’re very proud of how this event has evolved over the years. We take great satisfaction in seeing how delighted the recipients are to receive their medal in front of their family and friends.”
On the back of a successful Ceremony for junior netball, Hawke’s Bay Netball Operations Manager, Tina Arlidge said she was very appreciative of the continued support from Unison.
“Last year the region's ANZ Future Ferns Junior Netball programme was one of the largest of its kind in New Zealand which was largely attributable to Unison's involvement and support.”
Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union Commercial Manager, Jay Campbell reflected on another solid season of junior rugby, with Unison’s support playing an integral role.
“Our relationship with Unison has now entered its eighth year, and we continue to value their generous support.”
He said the Medal Ceremony was a really great initiative, and played an important role in helping shape young players.
“The award recognises the values of work ethic, discipline, and fair play, and these are all essential traits for any budding young rugby player, just as it is for any professional rugby player."
Mr Sutherland said through its support of junior rugby, hockey and netball, Unison was able to engage with children on important safety issues, while at the same time contribute to the growth of these development programmes, which nurture a life-long passion for the game in young players.
“We’re passionate about supporting our local communities, and about keeping them safe around our electrical assets within the region. Our partnerships with these three sports have enabled us to engage with around 9,000 children and their families this year.”