Young soccer talent Emma Blaikie got international-level kudos recently when she was awarded a medal as one of the 12 top New Zealand players among the 27 girls teams from around the country who competed last month at the Aims Games sporting championships in Tauranga.
It’s a proud achievement, says coach Elton Snell of his protégé who’s a striker and a “very dependable” goal-scorer.
The award recognises top players in the country for their age groups, he adds, and looks good on their CVs.
Twelve-year-old Emma grew up in Raglan West and, after years of playing junior soccer locally, has gone on to play for Peachgrove Intermediate where she is now in its year eight sports class. Not only has she competed the past two years at the Aims Games as part of the school’s all-girl soccer team the Vixens, but Emma also got to play across the ditch at last year’s Gold Coast Cup.
While the Vixens this year placed seventh overall in the annual Aims Games – narrowly missing the semifinals – they placed second last year. For Emma it’s a week out of school playing three or four soccer games each day, which she loves but admits is “really tiring”.
The tournament gives intermediate school students an opportunity to compete at an elite level against the best of their age across 16 different sports. The event – in its tenth year – now attracts 200-odd New Zealand, Australian and Pacific schools, with medals awarded to the best of the best.
As Emma began her final term at Peachgrove Intermediate this week, she was looking forward to receiving her top player medal at the school’s end-of-year prizegiving.
Raglan teenager Molly Hamilton – like Emma in year eight at Peachgrove – also competed at the Aims Games this year, in a netball team which placed 19th from a field of 80-odd teams.