If you’re planning a visit home anytime soon, make it April 2017. This is when the World Masters Games kick off in Auckland, with more than 25,000 athletes from all over the world expected to take part. The focus of the event is on amateur participation, so you might want to consider taking part yourself.
WMG2017 Chief Executive Jennah Wootten says the Games always attract a wide variety of competitors from Olympic stars to social teams out for some fun. However the diversity of participants who have signed up so far, along with the immediate international support for the Games, has humbled organisers.
“Auckland will be the place to be in April 2017, with competition happening at 45+ venues right across the region during the 10-day festival,” Ms Wootten says.
“We already have more than 50 countries involved and competitors range in age from a 25-year-old Australian swimmer to a 95-year-old swimmer from the United States.”
“Many of the participants have shared with us amazing stories of overcoming adversity and using masters sport to recover from life threatening illnesses and personal setbacks. That’s not only inspiring but it reflects the spirit of sport which the Games embody,” she says.
In supporting the Olympic Games ethos of ‘sport for all’, the goal of the World Masters Games is to encourage participation in sport throughout life. Competition and camaraderie are equally celebrated.
“We are targeting 25,000 athletes from 100 countries and have already received registrations from as far afield as Iceland, Malawi, Japan, Poland, Spain, China, Italy and Indonesia,” Ms Wootten says.
“Now with one year to go, the most important thing New Zealanders can do to make the Games a success is sign up - as a competitor or volunteer.”
As with all other World Masters Games, there is generally no need to qualify or be selected to compete. As long as you are over the minimum age for your chosen sport, and meet the minimum disability classification requirements in the case of para-sports, you can take part.
“Sports such as softball, football, golf and athletics are already proving very popular so we’d encourage people to sign up early,” Ms Wootten says.
She expects approximately half of the Games’ 25,000 competitors will come from New Zealand and half from overseas.
Games organisers are also on the hunt for approximately 4000 volunteers, with a wide variety of roles on offer. Most volunteers are required in Auckland, which is home to all but two of the Games sports, with a number also needed in the Waikato, where rowing and track cycling are based.
For more information, to sign up and volunteer, visit: www.worldmastergames2017.co.nz