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Greatest Supporter

Unison Medal Ceremonies recognise outstanding young sports people in the region

HB Magpie Marino Mikaele-Tu'u, 5th Grade Unison Medal recipient Pippa Somerville and HB Magpie Isaia Walker-Leawere at the Unison Medal Ceremony for rugby

With the junior winter sport season having drawn to a close for 2022, Unison’s twelfth annual medal ceremonies saw more than 550 young rugby, hockey, football and netball players presented with medals during the past week.

Held at the Napier Municipal Theatre, after a two-year break due to Alert Level restrictions, the medal ceremonies acknowledge whānau and coaches, and reward one player from each team who has shown excellence in the values of work ethic, discipline and fair play – both on and off the field, turf and court.

Junior rugby players were the first recipients to take to the stage to receive their Unison Medal. Hawke’s Bay Magpies players presented the medals and celebrated with each recipient by taking a photo with them and their medal.

Hawke’s Bay Magpie, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u said recognising young athletes not only for being talented, but for the team player they are is so important.

“When I was younger, only the fastest or the most skilled players would get recognition at end of season. It’s fantastic to see these players celebrated for everything they bring to the game and the overall contribution to the success and wellbeing of their teams. You can see their faces light up as they enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

“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,” Mr Mikaele-Tu’u said.

Five-year-old medal recipient, Pippa Somerville from Eskview Rugby Club, said she was excited to receive her medal.

“I felt very proud of myself and enjoyed getting up on the stage to receive my medal in front of lots of people.

“I love playing rugby, it’s my favourite sport. I like playing with my friends and scoring tries,” Miss Somerville said.

Former Silver Fern, Irene van Dyk is a familiar face to the Unison Medal Ceremonies, again making a special appearance this year to celebrate the young outstanding netballers in our community.

“I’m always very happy to attend community events like this. Having been a part of the Unison Medal Ceremony for four years now, I never get over the smiles which the kids have on their faces when receiving their medal.

“Even when I was playing netball at the top level, the people I enjoyed playing with the most were those who tried their hardest and were great team players, so it’s amazing to see so many children recognised for these same values tonight,” Ms van Dyk said.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough said the Unison Medal Ceremonies had become a highlight of the season for many young players across the region and they’re stoked to see them return this year.

“We’re passionate about supporting our local communities, and we’re extremely proud that our partnerships are supporting the wellbeing, health and development of the children in our regions. Our Greatest Supporter programme is also a great channel for us to deliver safety messages to keep our young people safe around electrical assets.

“After two years of sending the medals out to clubs and schools to present, it’s awesome to have the ceremonies back up and running to celebrate the outstanding efforts these young players have displayed throughout the season. Thanks to the clubs and schools for distributing the medals whilst the medal ceremonies were unable to be held,” Mr Gough said.

50 Unison Medals were also presented to junior hockey players in Taupō last week.

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