I had a colleague in Parliament this week rib me on what was in Nelson’s water that makes our sports teams so competitive.
We should take pride that our teams like Nelson Giants, Tasman Mako and Tasman United are performing at a level way in excess of our population. We also took a healthy stash of Commonwealth Games medals with Jo Edwards (Womens Bowls), Anita McLaren and Kelsey Smith (Womens Hockey) and Trael Joss and Andrew Knewstubb (Mens rugby).
It is not Nelson’s water that produces this sporting success but years of effort. There are the thousands of volunteers who manage, coach, fundraise, referee and support our sports teams and individuals. There are also generous local business sponsors like Nelson Pine, Mike Pero, the Car Company and many others that help fund our clubs and teams.
We also should take pride in the standard of our facilities. I stood in a blank field 30 years ago with then Mayors Peter Malone and Kerry Marshall as we dreamed of a multi sports regional facility. Both our councils deserve credit for the way they have cooperated and invested in developing the Saxton complex.
A tribute to the Saxton Velodrome Trust, chaired by Bruce Fraser, on getting this latest facility completed. I was out with the family on Sunday, and like many others, were enjoying the new ride. The childrens road safety training facility inside the velodrome is a must do for young families.
I also praise the Nelson City Council for seeing through the upgrade of the Trafalgar Centre. It was great to join a wild Nelson crowd for the nail biting 103-100 Giants win in their latest home game. The basketball was electrifying, but organisers also deserve credit for the food, commentary and entertainment.
The relocation of the velodrome to Saxton will make for a better facility at Trafalgar Park whose grounds are also being upgraded. We have the most exciting ever season ahead with our first ever All Blacks game in Nelson on 8 September.
The Tasman Mako are a remarkable story of success that began with the visionary dreams a decade ago from Max Spence and others to unite the strengths of Nelson and Marlborough rugby. I used to get excited when the Mako beat teams like Hawkes Bay and Manawatu but they are now winning against the giants of rugby like Canterbury, Waikato and Auckland. They have made three of the last four season’s finals. We need to get behind them for their home games in September and October.
Tasman United Football is even newer than the Mako but are being coming increasingly competitive and have just appointed a new manager. Their Trafalgar Park games are free and from October, offer great family entertainment.