Sport Southland hosts the annual celebration of sporting achievement on behalf of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust and is presenting the Awards online for the first time.
It was a great outing for the athletics community with Te Anau policeman Dwight Grieve winning the NZME Masters Achievement of the Year award and Phil Hartley named the BDO Administrator of the Year, while former Southland Football chairman Jeff Walker was awarded with a Sport Southland Services to Sport.
A year on from representing New Zealand as an open runner at the world mountain running championships, Grieve continued to make great strides in masters running.
An age group champion and sixth overall at the national half marathon championships, Grieve was also sixth overall and the first masters runner for the second year in a row at the Kepler Challenge.
Grieve only took up running seriously at 30 after deciding to make a number of life changes and lose some weight. He acknowledged the supportive nature of the Te Anau community, his coach Shaun Cantwell and especially his family. “Even though it’s one person running, it’s the whole group who keep you motivated and keep you going.”
Hartley is a valued board member and chair of the Track and Field committee and can usually be found helping out at Surrey Park during the athletics season.
However, it’s as project manager of the Surrey Park track resurfacing that he has had the most impact in recent times. “It’s been a bit of a journey. (We had) a lot of support from the funders which made it a lot easier and we got there in the end,” Hartley said.
Walker became involved in football administration in 1998, taking the chair of the Southland Football Association men’s committee the following year.
What followed was a tremendous period of change in the governance of the sport with the creation of the federation system.
Under Walker’s leadership a restructure created more efficiencies across the game and led to the creation of Southland Football, which also provided the framework for a number of high profile games to be staged in Invercargill, including a pre-Under 17 World Cup game between New Zealand and Paraguay.
Along with Kenny Cresswell, Walker was instrumental in the creation the all-weather training and playing facility at Turnbull Thomson Park which is now the home of Southland football.
“It all started, as with most parents, you go along to a Saturday morning and there’s no coach,” Walker said.
“I was disappointed with the organisational structure and then I thought it wasn’t just the juniors, we could do better all round. I looked enviously at the money netball and rugby were getting and just thought that we needed to be a bit more organised.”
The ILT Southland Sports Awards continues on Wednesday, July 1, with the Southland Kia Team of the Year, Ricoh Southland Coach of the Year and the third Sport Southland Services to Sport award.