Hamilton's Resthills Park saw plenty of action today as Waikato and Counties Manukau competed in softballs Bombay Challenge.
With grades ranging from U13 to Masters, the tournament allows families a rare opportunity to play together at the same place. It also offers the representative teams a chance to get game time together ahead of their upcoming national tournaments.
Waikato Softball Association President, Rawiri Toia enjoys the tournament for that reason, saying that they have seen, and responded the desire for the families to be together. The bonds extend further than the softball diamond, Toia says, citing the connection that the Waikato and Counties Manukau regions share through the Tainui canoe.
Originally the Robert Waller Memorial Trophy was played for by the masters grade but has since become the trophy awarded to the overall winning association. His grandson, Ryschan Thompson is proud that people still turn out in his koro's memory, "he considered everyone as family, even though they were whāngaied That was just the type of person he was. It's good to come out here and hopefully get a game and just so I can support him, as he supported us all those years ago," he said.
Having lived in Australia for the past 7 years, Thompson returned to NZ earlier this year when he was selected in the Junior Black Sox team for the World Championships in Canada. He is now hoping to push for higher honours.
The youth section of this years Bombay Challenge has expanded to include North Harbour and Western Bay of plenty. Toia says it helps the youth grades prepare for their national tournaments which will take place early in the new year. He says the associations outside of the big cities need to look after each other and help ensure that their young players can go to the national tournaments with the skills, and ultimately the opportunities to earn selection to NZ teams.
The junior tournaments get underway early in the new year.
3– 6 Jan NZ U23 Mens Championships, Fraser Park, Lower Hutt
4 - 6 Jan NZ U23 Women's Championships, Fraser Park, Lower Hutt
10 – 13 NZ U15 Boys Championships, Prince Edward Park, Papakura
10 – 13 Little League NZ U15 Girls Championships, Colquhoun Park, Palmerston North
17 – 20 NZ U18 Boys Championships Mizuno Ballpark Christchurch
17 – 20 NZ U18 Girls Championships, Resthills Park, Hamilton