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Greatest Supporter

Unison Switch Gala Day an opportunity to try something different

Girls and boys were supported in a safe and inclusive environment at the 2022 Unison Switch Gala Day.

More than 700 local children took the chance to try something different at the annual Unison Switch Gala Day last Thursday which saw girls take to the rugby field and boys to the netball court.

Girls aged seven to fourteen years gave their best efforts at the rippa and sevens rugby formats which enabled them to learn key skills to enjoy our national game. Boys aged nine to eighteen years passed the ball around the netball courts in a fun environment which allowed for plenty of competition and opportunities to learn all about the rules and strategy as well.

Unison Relationship Manager, Danny Gough said Unison is always proud to support local initiatives that positively influence the wellbeing, health and development of the young people in its regions.

“The Switch Gala Day is a key event on the Unison Greatest Supporter programme calendar. It provides an inclusive environment for children of all skill levels to try something different, express themselves, and have fun whilst keeping active.

“After kicking off the first gala day four years ago to encourage participation amongst female rugby players, we’re stoked the boys’ netball is thriving too. We’re always looking for more ways to encourage diversity and inclusion and we’re proud to support this awesome event.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to connect with our community. Our various spot prizes throughout the day dovetail to promote important safety messages that keep our rangatahi safe around electrical assets. Well done to everyone who took part on the day,” Mr Gough said.

Hawke’s Bay Rugby CEO, Jay Campbell said the Unison Switch Gala Day provided girls with the opportunity to give rugby a go in a supportive environment.

“This event provides a perfect opportunity for girls across the region to improve their skills and understanding of our great game. The rippa and sevens formats are an ideal way to provide the girls a safe and fun environment so that all girls can attend and enjoy this experience with their mates regardless of previous rugby experience.

“With the Women’s Rugby World Cup being hosted in New Zealand this year there are lots of eyes on the female game. Given how well our Hawke’s Bay Tuis performed this year, we hope the young players at the Switch Gala Day will continue to enjoy the game and play into their secondary school and adult years.” Mr Campbell said.

Hawke’s Bay Netball General Manager, Denise Aiolupotea was impressed with the array of skills on display and hoped that this would also encourage boys to continue playing into the future.

“Boys always play an exciting game of netball, it’s fantastic to watch. It was awesome to see players who have been playing in our local school competition but also a lot of new faces at the courts.

“In 2021, 28 teams participated in the Switch Gala Day and this year we increased to 52 teams. Such a fantastic turn out! This day gives boys the confidence to step outside of their comfort zone to try something different and we look forward to seeing more young male players coming through the system into our local men’s league.

“Thank you to the schools who provided the opportunity for boys to try something different. I also want to make a special mention to Napier Girls’ High School and Hastings Girls’ High School for supplying umpires and as always, thanks so much to Unison for their continued support of junior sport in Hawke’s Bay,” Mrs Aiolupotea said. 

Originally a girls’ gala day with Hawke’s Bay Rugby only, in 2021 Hawke’s Bay Netball jumped on board to make it a fully inclusive event which saw the Unison Switch Gala Day come to life.

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