With the region’s winter sports season drawing to an end, Unison’s annual Unison Medal Ceremonies for junior rugby, netball and hockey players are underway, recognising excellence, both on and off the field.
Last night, it was the turn of Hawke’s Bay’s young rugby players to receive their Unison Medal, presented by the Hawke’s Bay Magpies - one of whom was himself a recipient of the award in its inaugural year.
“Receiving a Unison medal back in 2009 was pretty inspiring, but to return seven years later and award medals to these young kids has been an awesome experience," said 19-year-old Magpie, Jonah Lowe.
Hawke’s Bay Rugby Union Commercial Manager, Jay Campbell, said seeing Jonah graduate from a Unison Medal recipient to a fully-fledged contracted Magpie, was justification of the virtues of the award.
“The award recognises the values of work ethic, discipline, and fair play, and these are essential in becoming a professional rugby player," said Mr Campbell.
Unison Group Chief Executive Officer, Ken Sutherland, said the Unison Medal had become a highlight of the season for many young players.
“Initially the medal was part of our support for 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 the award has become so popular with young players, and it is wonderful to see how delighted the recipients are to receive their medal in front of their family and friends.”
On the back of a successful Medal Ceremony for junior netball last Wednesday night, Hawke’s Bay Netball Operations Manager, Tina Arlidge, said she was very appreciative of the continued support from Unison.
“With the support of Unison, we have been able to continue our focus on extending our netball programme in primary and intermediate schools.
“We believe growing the game at a junior level will not only support the long-term strength of the sport at an international level, but will also provide a way to help children develop a range of great qualities that will serve them well in life. The Unison Medal is a wonderful way to recognise this.”
Following the second year of the junior hockey partnership, the first ever Medal Ceremony for junior hockey players will be held this evening.
Hawke’s Bay’s Hockey Manager Dean Hulls said the partnership with Unison had grown from strength to strength.
“It has been amazing to see what a difference Unison’s support has made to our junior hockey programme. Our young players have really benefited from their support and commitment to lifting the profile of the sport in our region.
“All the boys and girls are really excited about tonight’s upcoming inaugural Medal Ceremony,” he said.
Mr Sutherland said Unison’s support of junior rugby, hockey and netball provided the Company with a valuable communication channel for sharing important safety messages with children, while at the same time supporting the clubs and schools to enhance their development programmes, and 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 7,000 children and their families.”
Recipients of the Unison Medal were nominated by their coaches for having consistently shown great work ethic, discipline and fair play.