Former Black Sox Thomas Makea of Ngāti Kahungunu is passing on his skills to the next generation. This week Makea and son Reilly are taking to the field together with Papanui at the Men's Softball National Championships in Wellington.
They may be father and son but on the pitch the only title that matters is ‘teammates’ for national representatives Thomas and Reilley Makea.
Thomas says, “[He's] just another teammate for me really. He's got some good skills, I know what he can do with the ball and the bat.”
Softball is a sport ingrained in the Makea whānau. Former Black Sox Thomas spent twenty years playing for the national team from 1994-2014. His sons now hope to follow in their dad's footsteps.
Reilly says, “Learning stuff off him every day...whatever it is and coming to the park.”
The two form part of this year's Papanui team competing at the nationals, coached under Thomas Papanui. They finished fifth last year are this year's tournament favourites.
Thomas agrees with that notion, “Certainly in our minds we’re the favourites, but we just made top eight now.”
“There’s a lot of tough teams, Bears, AU, Ramblers- all those Auckland teams- which is good for us South Island boys to come up and play softball against some good teams,” says Reilly.
Over nineteen teams from across the country are putting on their best performance this week. In addition to national honours these athletes will be looking for national team selections.
Softball NZ CEO Tony Giles says, “It's arguably the biggest year for us. We're sending nine teams offshore this year so we run fifteen national domestic events and we've got nine international teams from u15 right through to the top elite, White Sox and Black Sox teams. Everybody’s going away.”
The tournament ends on Sunday.