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AIMS Games: From South Korea to Tauranga, Ian Shin loves playing football

Ian Shin dreams of playing professional football in Europe – and his parents believe New Zealand is a better training ground than South Korea for a competitor with such huge ambitions. It’s proved handy for his Mount Maunganui Intermediate school team, with the star striker featuring heavily on the scoring sheet at the Anchor AIMS Games.  Since moving to New Zealand from South Korea this year, Shin has had the opportunity to join various club and school teams. With parks and football grounds near his Papamoa home, he is able to kick a ball around every day, without the pressure and demands common in Korea’s junior football academies.DAVE LINTOTTMount Maunganui Intermediate striker Ian Shin is getting plenty of kudos from his team-mates.  “Living in New Zealand is helping me because I can play football every day,” he explained. READ MORE:* Razor among famous parents at games* NZ’s greatest sporting genes* Amy Robinson commentates* Walker a vision of inspiration* Basketball’s teenage triplets Coach and Mount Intermediate teacher Ella Golding, who plays striker for the New Zealand Māori football team, says 80 boys tried out for the AIMS team but, early in the trials, Shin quickly emerged as a certainty.  Training with the AIMS team has built Shin’s football and language skills and his team have come to depend on him. “We usually bring Ian in to the game just before half-time and he just goes hard,” Golding says. “He’s fast, real skilful on the ball and he has a good strike so the other team don’t know what to expect.”DAVE LINTOTTIan Shin is a powerful striker for his Mount Maunganui Intermediate football team. Team-mate Flynn Skipage agrees – “He just hoons it, fast as he can, straight down the line and he’s got really good skills and physicality”. Flynn’s twin brother Mitchell says: “He’s really good at dribbling the ball and he’s got a powerful shot on him.”   Ian’s mother, Seonmo Hwang, says her oldest son Aaron was a homestay student at Te Puke High School last year and decided he wanted to compete his schooling in New Zealand. “He didn’t want to come back to Korea so that’s why I came here with my younger son Ian,” she says. “And he enjoys it here, playing football.”DAVE LINTOTTIan Shin, left, wants to play professional football in Spain. Shin’s father stays behind in South Korea for his job in skyscraper construction but the family meet up in New Zealand or Korea most school holidays. During their last family holiday, Shin told his father that he wanted to shoot for a future as an international footballer: “My dream is to play professional football in Spain.” On top of all the extra game-time he gets in New Zealand, Ian says playing on real grass – rather than the astroturf common back in Korea – has also improved his game. “I have played on grass one time before, and [now] in New Zealand I can play on grass every day. “I’m faster on grass,” Ian says. “It’s more comfortable to run. It’s not slippery, it doesn’t hurt when I fall down.” Education Tauranga’s Melissa Gillingham says there are around 2800 international students in the Bay of Plenty, collectively contributing an estimated $103 million to the local economy each year, and 25 of them are playing at AIMS. “They come here for a Kiwi experience, and it doesn’t get any more Kiwi than this.” Education Tauranga regional manager Anne Young says student exchanges develop tolerance, kindness and a global outlook among young people. And sport is a vital tool to support that cultural growth. “For young international students living away from their home for the first time, sport is a critical factor in them being able to make new friends and improve their English. “Students tell us that AIMS is a one-of-a-kind sporting event, the largest that many of them will have the opportunity to participate in, and very much a highlight of their overseas study experience.” The Anchor AIMS Games football competition is played at Gordon Spratt Reserve in Papamoa. This year, there have been 56 boys’ teams, and 34 girls’ teams – a total of 1260 competitors. The finals will be played on Friday. Mount Maunganui Intermediate made it to the final 16 of the boys’ football competition but lost to Northcross 2-0 on Thursday morning. * You can follow all of Stuff’s coverage of the AIMS Games here. All the results can be found here.  

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AIMS Games boss 'proud' of event's growth

This story was originally published on Locker Room at, and is republished with permission. With over 11,000 student athletes descending on Tauranga in the midst of a measles outbreak, and in the middle of day-long downpour, you could forgive Vicki Semple for being a bit flustered. This woman is in charge of a sports event that now rivals the Olympic Games for its sheer number of competitors (the 2016 Rio Games had 11,303 athletes). And she’s been there since the very start, 16 years ago.  When Locker Room calls to request a quick chat, you could probably forgive her for not viewing the requisition of a chunk of her precious time with obvious glee. READ MORE:* NZ’s greatest sporting genes* Brooklyn conquers obstacles* Rugby stalwart celebrated* Walker a vision of inspiration But Semple sounds delighted that we’ve called, makes herself available immediately, provides clear directions straight to her location at Blake Park, instructs a security guard to free up a carpark (as otherwise there wouldn’t be one for miles) and usher us into the venue. She’s mid-way through an email when we turn up, but quickly fires it off and asks how the AIMS Games experience is going for the futsal team I coach. When I mention that a gastro bug has wiped out two of my players that morning, she motions to a large box filled with hand sanitiser dispensers. Vicki Semple appears to be the world’s most organised woman – but she’s clearly busy. LockerRoom: So you’ve been involved in AIMS Games right from the start. Tell me about that. Vicki Semple: This is the 16th AIMS Games and I have been involved from the start. Dame Susan Devoy employed me at Sport BOP at the beginning of 2004. On my very first day I arrived and she said ‘Your first job is to go to a meeting at Tauranga Intermediate. A couple of school principals have come up with an idea for a sports event for intermediate-aged kids and they’d like a representative from Sport BOP to go along’. And that was me. Lucky, lucky me. I’ve been involved right from the start, and it is pretty awesome. LR: So at that first meeting, what was the idea on the table? VS: They just wanted to have an inter-school event where kids could celebrate sport, win medals, and get lots and lots of kids together. Who doesn’t love a good sports tournament? You know yourself, your favourite memories are representing your school with your friends. That was pretty much the vision.JAMIE TROUGHTON/DSCRIBE MEDIAVicki Semple, tournament director of the AIMS Games in Tauranga, with two keen young rock climbers.
LR: So going back to year one, how did you pull it together – and what sports were involved? VS: Technology back then wasn’t what it is now, so we basically faxed and mailed schools. We had four sporting codes – football, netball, hockey and cross country. We had 17 schools (this year we have 369) and 750 kids. This year there are over 11,000 – so we have definitely come a long way. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the AIMS Games would grow to this level. LR: Even 750 kids in year one is quite an undertaking? VS: We were absolutely delighted with that. And we have continued to grow. Every year we have got bigger and bigger and bigger. But, to be honest, growth in numbers isn’t actually our goal. Our goal is to make sure we are always on our A-game, always moving with the times. Making sure we are introducing new sports that the kids are into. Making sure the tournament runs really well. Growth numbers aren’t our key driver. LR: Growth also make things more difficult as well, surely? Looking at the scale of the event now when you are delivering so many sports (23), how does it work? VS: We have got an awesome team. It takes a lot of people to run an event like this. Because we’ve been running it for 16 years now we have got really good systems in place. Those systems have grown with the event. This year we have introduced an app so we can send out messages about, say, a delay in tennis and everyone gets the message. We can send our warnings about car accidents saying ‘if you are running late for the game, ring your code coordinator’. We’ve got a great registration system – so when we had the measles issue this year we already had everyone’s medical details. We could tell you straight away which kids weren’t immunised. We could communicate that to the schools, we could communicate with the parents around the warnings to do with measles and symptoms.JAMIE TROUGHTON/DSCRIBE MEDIAA 4am start and midnight finish isn’t unusual for Vicki Semple during the week of the AIMS Games. LR: And has measles been an issue? VS: No. Nothing. But we have systems in place. The games will go on. We are communicating hourly and daily with District Health. We have absolutely followed the professionals’ guidelines to the letter of the law to make sure we are doing the right thing. LR: You said earlier you’ve got a big team delivering this event. Just how big is it? VS: We’ve got 23 codes, six trustees, we’ve got a huge number of contractors. We’ve got port-a-loos, marquees, recycling, the app, live streaming contractors, cameramen, St John, physiotherapists. We’ve got great partnerships with lots of the national sporting organisations; we’ve got NetballSmart warm-ups, Fit4Football warm-ups, and NZ Rugby are here doing RugbySmart. So we are really educating kids as well. So our team is absolutely enormous! LR: Can you put a number on it? VS: I wouldn’t even like to guess. LR: I’d imagine with an event like this planning for the next year starts the day this one finishes? VS: Planning starts Monday. We’ll debrief and then I’ll be booking all my venues on Monday. We set our dates two years in advance so we can give everyone a heads-up.DAVE LINTOTTCanoeing is among the 23 sports delivered to more than 11,000 kids at the AIMS Games. LR: It is already so massive. Tauranga is literally heaving. Can this thing get much bigger? VS: You tell me. Every year I think we have probably reached capacity, but each year more and more people want to come. More people hear about it. We’ve got live streaming channels now, we’ve got great media, we’ve got really good social media, Instagram and Facebook. We’ve always covered media for adults and supporters but we haven’t really thought about the kids too much with our marketing and media. This year we have got [Instagram marketing specialists] Ace The Gram on board doing stuff on Instagram and it is absolutely going crazy. Yesterday, for example, we had 50,000 views on our live stream. So people at home can watch their kids play. We are super proud of that. LR: So who ‘owns’ AIMS Games? VS: We’ve got six trustees – the four principals from Western Bay of Plenty Intermediates – Otumoetai, Te Puke, Tauranga and Mt Maunganui. (Semple is an old girl of Otumoetai Intermediate). Then we have the CEO of Sport BOP and a mayoral representative. So we are a not-for-profit trust. A lot of people with the measles issue were saying ‘You are only doing this [not cancelling] because it is a money-making thing’. I can tell you right now the AIMS Games makes zero money. It costs a lot of money to run an event of this size and scale. Our partners and sponsors are just sensational. LR: Aside from the measles issue, have you have any other challenges? VS: The weather! Look, of course we are going to have issues, but because we have been doing this for 16 years and we have great systems, we can sort those out pretty quickly. LR: Last one – describe your typical day when you’re running an event like this? VS: My first message this morning was around 4am – so that was the start of the day. By the time we get all the results in and work out plans for the next day, the end of the day can be 11pm or midnight. We’ve got a plan, but the plan moves and changes, which is fun. LR: Sounds busy. We’d better let you get back to it. Thanks for giving us a bit of your time. VS: No worries. This story was originally published on Locker Room at, and is republished with permission.

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AIMS Games: Jaya Stanley a descendant of two generations of All Blacks, Silver Ferns

Aspiring netballer Jaya Stanley has a remarkable sporting pedigree as a descendant of two generations of both All Blacks and Silver Ferns. Jaya, 12, is the daughter of former All Black Jeremy Stanley and ex-Silver Fern Anna Stanley (née Rowberry), her coach for the Baradene College of the Sacred Heart team at this week’s AIMS Games in Tauranga. Jeremy is the son of 27-test All Blacks centre Joe Stanley and Anna is the daughter of former Silver Fern Brenda Rowberry, so as well as growing up with parents who played international sport, Jaya’s grandparents have an illustrious sporting background, too.DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHYJaya Stanley might have the best sporting genes in New Zealand. In total, Jaya’s grandfather Joe, a stalwart in a revered Auckland team from 1984-91, made 49 appearances for the All Blacks from 1986-91. He started the 1987 Rugby World Cup final win (29-9) over France and was a member of the fabled Baby Blacks who beat France 18-9 in 1986. READ MORE:* Brooklyn conquers obstacles* Amy Robinson commentates* Walker a vision of inspiration* Basketball’s teenage triplets* Tiatia’s twins two of 10 sets Jaya’s two younger brothers, 11-year-old Nico and eight-year-old Zac, are also “good little rugby players” but have chosen to play football.SPORTS INC “The dark side as we say”, joked mother Anna, who won 91 caps for the Silver Ferns from 1994-2007. Jaya’s father Jeremy would play only three tour matches and no tests for the All Blacks in the UK in 1997, but the former Auckland centre – the same position as his father – played Super Rugby for the Blues, Highlanders and Hurricanes before an injury cut his career short in 2001. As well as netball, Jaya dances and plays touch rugby which she enjoys. “It’s good to get a mix between dad and mum,” she said.  Netball has the most participating teams (125) at the 16th AIMS Games, a week-long event featuring more than 11,500 intermediate-aged athletes from New Zealand and the Pacific. With her school from Remuera in Auckland, Jaya is one of five daughters of former All Blacks playing netball in Tauranga this week. Jaya smiled and said she was lucky with her sporting genes. However, “I don’t really think about it much. I love how mum coaches my netball team. DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHYJaya Stanley’s father Jeremy Stanley was an All Black and her mother Anna Stanley was a Silver Fern. “It makes me love sports because they did sports and I want to continue playing netball like my mum did. I would like to be a Silver Fern one day.” Anna Stanley can relate to her daughter. Her mother Brenda, Jaya’s grandmother, was a Silver Fern in the 1970s. “I didn’t really look at her as a famous sporting parent,” she said. “My mum was heavily involved in netball and she coached me right through, so it was nice to have a parent who knew what she was talking about.DOMINION POSTJaya’s grandfather Joe Stanley played 27 tests for the All Blacks. “Her expectations were often greater but I put a lot of high expectations on myself. I didn’t really mind having a screaming parent on the sidelines.” Stanley’s career highlight was a Netball World Cup win in 2003 and she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004. “Sport is a big part of our life but it’s not the only thing,” she continued. “We’re a very outdoorsy family. We love going boating and hanging out with family. “I’ve always wanted my kids to grow up playing sport and they learn a lot of life skills that I have learned as a player. I want my kids to learn that.”DAVE LINTOTT PHOTOGRAPHYJaya Stanley also has a grandmother who was a Silver Fern, Brenda Rowberry. Fishing is also on the menu, then Jaya says “playing cricket at the bach”. Those games of backyard cricket must be some of the most competitive in New Zealand. Among this year’s World Cup-winning Silver Ferns, Jaya looks up to captain Laura Langman but always turns to her mother after games. “After every game, I ask mum ‘what can I do better and what can I improve on?’ There are good tips and tricks.” * You can follow all of Stuff’s coverage of the AIMS Games here. All the results can be found here.WAIKATO TIMESAnna Stanley won the 2003 Netball World Cup with the Silver Ferns.  

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AIMS Games: Tonga’s Mana Taufa tackles his first multisport event in Tauranga

Until this week, 11-year-old Mana Taufa had never kayaked on a river or been on a fully-kitted mountain bike. Rivers are a rarity on his home island in Tonga; Taufa’s training involves kayaking in the lagoon out the back of his home, riding the Kingdom’s flat roads on a basic bike borrowed from a friend and building his cardio fitness through swimming training in Nuku’alofa’s ocean pool.

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AIMS Games celebrates rugby stalwart and All Black mentor Ian Spraggon

After a lifetime of selfless giving, it was a rare and humbling feeling for Ian Spraggon to be on the receiving end for a change. From growing up playing barefoot rugby in deep, biting South Waikato frosts, the man universally known as ‘Sprags’ has gone on to become a lifelong servant of the game and a much-loved and celebrated coach to thousands of Kiwi kids.

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Tauranga’s AIMS Games cancelled due to Covid-19
May 26, 2019 • Source: 1 NEWS

This year’s AIMS Games that were to be held in Tauranga have been cancelled due to the ongoing safety concerns around the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hearing impairment not slowing Whakatane Intermediate climber impressing at AIMS Games
Sep 10, 2019 • Source: 1 NEWS

Brooklyn Taitimu is into the semis for rockclimbers at the country’s largest sporting event

AIMS Games kicks off in Tauranga
Sep 8, 2019 • Source:  1 NEWS

The sixteenth year of the annual intermediate school sports tournament, known as the AIMS Games, has officially begun.

Thousands of school kids around NZ, Pacific Islands warned of measles risk ahead of AIMS Games
Sep 7, 2019 • Source: 1 NEWS

Bear in mind the risks, and be sensible – that’s the message from health officials as more than 11,000 intermediate-age students gather for a sports tournament, amid a measles outbreak.


More than 11,000 young athletes with descend on Tauranga in September for AIMS Games

July 29, 2019 • Source:  Breakfast on 1

More than 11,000 young athletes will descend on Tauranga in September for AIMS Games – and this year they’re going international with a group of Fijian school kids set to compete!

Fijian sevens team will compete against New Zealand schools at AIMS Games for first time
Jul 23, 2019 • Source: 1 NEWS

The Tauranga tournament is expanding its international reach

Watch: NZ Sevens stars surprise AIMS Games athletes with trophies from successful World Cup campaigns
Sep 12, 2018 • Source: 1 NEWS

Three New Zealand Sevens players have surprised thousands of students in Tauranga with both the men’s and women’s Sevens Rugby World Cup trophies.

Thousands of young athletes in Tauranga for annual AIMS Games
Sep 9, 2018 • Source:  1 NEWS

Hundreds of intermediate and middle school students have kicked off this year’s AIMS Games by giving it their all at the first event in Tauranga.

Pool Runnings: Tongan swimming team with no pool competes at NZ’s AIMS Games

You’ve probably heard of Cool Runnings, the movie about a Jamaican bob sled team with no snow to train on.

Retirement village opens door for young athletes competing at AIMS Games

A retirement village in Tauranga has opened its doors to around 50 intermediate aged children this week.

It’s the answer to the accommodation shortage during the annual AIMS Games which this year has attracted more than 10,000 athletes from over 300 schools.

AIMS Games 2019 results + photos
13 Sep, 2019 03:25 AM

Mahara Matete gets airborne during Te Puke Intermediate School’s 29-0 win over Papamoa College on the first day of the 2019 AIMS Games boys’ 7s competition.

Nearly 3 tonnes of kiwifruit to be handed out at Tauranga’s AIMS Games
26 Aug, 2019 10:21 AM

The Anchor AIMS Games are coming up in Tauranga next month, bringing 11,500 intermediate students from 369 schools across New Zealand and the Pacific for a week of sporting competition.