Performing better aim for athletes

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Twenty-three St Kevin’s College pupils have become sporting guinea pigs this term.
The year 9 and 10 pupils are in the first intake of a new high-performance programme at the school established by head of physical education Craig Smith.
As mentors go, Mr Smith is not a bad example – he plays for both the Otago Volts cricket team and the North Otago rugby team – and he is keen to see St Kevin’s lift its overall standards in sport.
“A lot of schools are doing it. If you’re not, you’re probably going to fall behind a little bit in your sport,” he said.
“We’re obviously looking to upskill our kids so eventually our marquee teams will perform better, but it’s also about lifting participation and engagement in the various sports.”
Football, basketball, rugby and netball are the four foundation sports to be covered by the programme.
“We’re just starting with those sports but we’re not necessarily going to limit it to those four in the future.
“The biggest challenge is finding resources, but we’re pretty lucky with some of our local coaches who are helping out.”
North Otago netball coach Abbey McKenzie and North Otago Rugby Football Union development officer Jason Forrest have started running sessions for the programme.
Each week, the pupils spend three periods in the programme. One period is in the classroom, looking at issues like nutrition, injuries, mental skills and leadership, one is dedicated to fitness, and one involves skills work.
The first intake was hand-picked, Mr Smith said.
“We had a bit of a chat to our coaches around the kids’ skills and their attitude, which is a massive thing for us. They need to have the motivation to do well.
“Next year, there will be full application process that we will sort through.”
A senior high-performance programme will be added at St Kevin’s next year. The older pupils will have five periods a week and NCEA credits are available.