Brendon Hartley’s father Bryan with his son’s trophies, at the Manawatū Sports Awards.

Wow – well it was a while ago now, but the team here at Sport Manawatū is still buzzing over the inspirational evening that was the Central Energy Trust Manawatū Sports Awards.

Celebrating sporting success is just one of our many hats and every year we revel in the opportunity to share our sporting success with the region. Recognition is an important part of sport, not only for athletes, coaches and officials, but also for its ability to inspire others to get out there and become fit, active and involved themselves.

We had Brendon Hartley taking out both the CET supreme sportsperson of the year and the Humphries Construction sportsman of the year. At only 28, this impressive young man has taken out the World 24-hour Endurance Champs and the Le Mans 24 hours, and has recently taken the stage as the first Kiwi since Mike Thackwell in 1984 to compete on the Formula 1 grand prix circuit.

It was no surprise then that his racing commitments didn’t leave much room for an awards night, but Hartley joined us via video to tell us about how coming home to the Manawatū is his favourite time of year, one really treasures.

This year, we split our disabled categories into four separate awards to ensure all our region’s top athletes were recognised. This means we now have men’s and women’s categories in both the intellectual and physical disability sporting areas.

Triathlete Sharon Dagg took out the TigerTurf women’s physical disability award and also joined us via video from her hospital bed, having recently had surgery to amputate her left arm. It was great to be able to share her heartfelt message to all her supporters.

But to backtrack a bit, if you haven’t heard of us just yet, we are Sport Manawatū. This is our first column of what will be a regular contribution to the Standard. We are your local sports trust and aim to get everyone active everyday and increase participation in sport and recreation.

What is the key word here? Participation. There is a place for everyone under the Sport Manawatū umbrella. From our health team, whose goal is to get people of all ages who are currently inactive, active, to our staff out in schools, whatever it is, if it involves physical activity, we are here to help.

We also have a huge role to play in putting on events and supporting others to do the same. That way, we’re creating economic benefits for the city, too, as well as ensuring local competition for local athletes, sports organisations and clubs who are able to compete on home soil.

A great example of this is the New Zealand Secondary School Volleyball Championships this week at Palmerston North’s Central Energy Trust Arena, involving 101 schools from across the country.

We also have some of our own events coming up. For the kids, we’ve got the Run, Ride ‘N Slide at Victoria Park in Fielding on March 22 and 29. And for the whole family, we have the Humphries Construction Whanau Tri on April 7. Check out our website or give us a call to find out more.

And, just to let you know, from Monday, Sport Manawatū has been on the move. We aren’t moving far though, with our new address across the road at 47 Queen Street. The move is part of the process to make our new Sports House at the CET Arena a reality by the end of 2019.

Trevor Shailer, Sport Manawatu, CEO

Published in The Manawatu Standard and on Stuff