Halberg Junior Disability Games showcase future sporting stars

By Moana Makapelu Lee
  • Auckland

New Zealand's future Paralympic talent came from all across the country to Kings College on the weekend to take part in the Halberg Junior Paralympic Games in Auckland

Wheels were blazing in the final show down of the Halberg Junior Disability Games as Māori athletes dominated on the basketball court. Waikato's U21 Wheelchair Basketball team taking out the title for a fourth consecutive year over long time rivals, Auckland.

Waikato player CJ Takiari says, "Just basically coming back and getting the job done and it was awesome this weekend, I always enjoy being back here".

It's the first time this year Ngāti Maniapoto dancer, Rodney Bell has taken up the role of coach for the team. 

Bell says family support is the biggest drive of the tournament, "They're a very strong team because of the support they get. cause of there Mama's and Papa's and family that come along. When it comes to professionalism these kids are very professional."

It's the breeding ground for New Zealand's future paralympic athletes. Over 146 young athletes went head to head in over 21 different sports across the three-day tournament.

"This disabled game is founded them so they came in when they were young when they probably couldn't catch a ball, they were just having fun and now they are gonna go on to be New Zealand future basketball players. They're the future for New Zealand", says Bell.

With scouts also in attendance, Takiari says the Games offer many opportunities for a shot at a sporting career, 'Obviously go to the Paralympics one day, but for now coming here and playing with the young bucks is all good.'

Organisers hope more awareness around the Games will increase participation numbers in the future.