‘Chance of a lifetime’ for AIMS Games teams

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Kaiapoi North School students are flying out to Tauranga this weekend for ‘‘the change of a lifetime’’.
The school has entered boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the annual AIMS Games (AIMS stands for Association of Intermediate and Middle Schools) being held in Tauranga during Sunday to Friday, September 4 to 9.
Teacher Megan Gilmore says the teams have been training hard and there has been ‘‘a huge amount of fundraising’’ to get the two teams to Tauranga.
‘‘I have coached at many nationals before and while this isn’t at the same level, the atmosphere is. This is a tournament which has more competitors than the Commonwealth Games.
‘‘Some people say it’s a long time out of the classroom, but they learn a lot more in terms of life experience. It’s just awesome.’’
Ms Gilmore says the boys’ team could be up against it with 53 boys’ basketball teams entered, while there are 24 teams in the girls’ basketball competition.
The two teams competed in an annual South Island tournament in Oamaru during the July school holidays with the inexperienced girls’ team ‘‘pleasantly surprising us’’, she says.
‘‘Most of the girls are new to the sport, with some of them only picking up a basketball for the first time in the fourth term last year.
‘‘But it’s fair to say we used the Oamaru trip as a stepping stone for both teams.’’
The boys’ team is ‘‘very experienced’’ with several representative players, but has not played much together.
‘‘We are just waiting for them to pull together as a team. It just takes a wee bit of time and game time in particular and we probably haven’t had as much as we would like.’’
The boys managed to fit in a practice match against a Christchurch team, while the girls took on a Kaiapoi High School girls’ team before the South Island tournament.
However, the school has had success in the sport in recently years and last year won five North Canterbury Basketball finals.
It is the third time Kaiapoi North School has competed at the AIMS Games, after a boys’ basketball and a girls’ netball team competed in 2012 and boys’ and girls’ basketball teams competed two years ago.
The girls’ team finished 5th out 24 team in 2014, while the boys finished 12th out of 36 teams in 2014 and 9th out of 36 teams in 2012.
Nearly 9300 intermediate-aged athletes from 271 schools will compete across 21 sports.