A split sporting role is paying dividends in North Otago.
Ethan Booth (21) has been working as a sport development officer for the past year, for both North Otago Cricket, in association with Otago Cricket, and North Otago Hockey.
The dual role, the first of its kind in North Otago, was created to support each sport.
During the summer, Booth (21) delivers cricket programmes in schools and holiday programmes. Last month, he began the hockey season.
For the winter, Booth will split his time between hockey (25 hours) and cricket (15 hours) each week. In the summer, 40 hours is allocated to cricket.
Booth enjoyed gaining insight into how two different sporting operations worked.
Junior hockey numbers were flourishing, with Upper Waitaki having five teams, and Omarama joining with two.
‘‘There’s some country teams that are making the trip . . . which is really cool,’’ Booth said.
Delivering school hockey programmes gave children a ‘‘taster’’ of the sport, which helped attract people.
‘‘Hockey is not a sport you see quite as often in school. It’s also quite an expensive sport, so where you can give a kid an opportunity it’s great.’’
Seven North Otago teams competed in an under›13 hockey festival in Dunedin last year, and this year Oamaru will host an under›18 boys festival at the end of the month.
A young North Otago team will compete, with a couple of adults playing to help, he said.
‘‘We haven’t had an under›18 team in a wee while, so it’ll be good to be that back up and running.’’
Cricket programme numbers doubled this season. About 40 children got involved in super smash skills in Kurow, and Booth started in Palmerston this year with four teams.
Booth visited schools from Macraes to Glenavy, and hoped to extend to Waimate High School. He also planned a joint cricket and hockey holiday programme for term 3.
For Booth, watching the enjoyment children got from his job was satisfying.
‘‘Giving a kid an opportunity to go out, have fun, and just enjoy themselves. Skill doesn’t really matter, they’re out there having fun with their mates — it’s really cool.’’
Booth played cricket for Glenavy and is a player›coach for Tainui hockey.
He coached the North Otago representative team last season, winning the Ian Smith Tournament, an experience he called ‘‘quite humbling’’.
‘‘I was 20 at the time . . .to kind of have the respect of the players, they listened to what I said and really bought into what I was trying to do, which was really cool.’’