Working across the whole sporting system is our goal here at Sport Manawatū.

We do this in many ways, from our sport development team, which works across an array of sporting codes, to our active team, which helps people get healthier and active.

Something a little less known perhaps is how we support our sporting partners with a constantly evolving shared-services model.

Right now, we lease office space, share a receptionist and administration services, and offer specialist advice to the sports organisations that reside in our building.

This model is constantly growing and it is a big part of why we are so excited about the development of our new Sports House, which is to be built at the Central Energy Trust Arena.

This building will give us the ability to support more sport partners and create a sport and recreation centre in the middle of Palmerston North, with the benefit of servicing our wider region.

Just last month, our sport partner, Special Olympics New Zealand, which is based in our building, announced its team that will represent New Zealand at the Summer Games in Abu Dhabi in March next year, and there is a stand-out contingent of Manawatū athletes and coaches.

Representing the region is Natasha Nicholson (bocce), Mark Cressingham (basketball), Braden Kendal (athletics) and Libby Shephard (swimming), who I’m sure will all be wearing the silver fern with pride over in Abu Dhabi next year.

The list of representatives doesn’t stop there either, we also have four coaches attending the event in head coach capacity: Carla LHuillier (swimming), Olwyn Humphreys (bocce), Shona McGahan (athletics) and Lyn Ryan (ten pin bowling), along with Helen Johnson, who is attending as the assistant coach for football.

This is a truly stand-out team of athletes and volunteer coaches that give up their time to make sport in our region and our country a reality. I look forward to watching their progress in the lead up to next year’s games.

Of course, individuals giving up their personal time are one of the key drivers behind sport and last week we thanked our youth volunteers by hosting a breakfast for them as part of Youth Week. Their contribution makes sport a reality for their school mates and peers and it was great to see a range of volunteers from year 9 to year 13, across eight different schools around Palmerston North, at Verdict Cafe.

To continue the trend, Volunteer Week is also fast approaching. If you would like to recognise any sporting volunteer as part of the week from 17-23 June, please let us know as we would love to say thank you in some small way.

Published in The Manawatu Standard and on Stuff