One Tree Hill College have confirmed their place as the champions of the North Island, after a clinical series of wins in the AFL Junior Secondary Schools North Island Championships.
The teams involved earned their places in the competition through performances in Hawks Cup Regional Cluster Tournaments. The Junior Hawks Cup constitutes the first step on the AFL New Zealand High Performance Pathway, which can lead to New Zealand representation.
The Central Auckland school managed to defeat tough opponents from around the region, including the previous winners and current Waitakere Junior Hawks Cup champions, Kelston Boys High School. Playing a fast and skilled brand of AFL, One Tree Hill College were unstoppable on attack.
The rest of the field was made up of Southern Cross College, current champions of Counties, Bay of Islands College, who won the Northland Junior Hawks Cup, and St Paul’s College, who placed 2nd in the Central Auckland Junior Hawks behind One Tree Hill College.
The closest rival was North Island Championship newcomer Southern Cross College, who almost upset One Tree Hill College in the first round. In a tense and taut contest, it was only superior accuracy in front of goal that gave One Tree Hill College a 6.2:38-4.4:28 win.
Southern Cross College went on to secure 2nd place in the tournament, defeating all other teams heavily. St Paul’s College came 3rd, with Bay of Islands College coming 4th.
The match of the tournament was a remarkable 2nd round clash between St Paul’s College and Bay of Islands College. After a flying first half, the Northland school led 4.1:25-1.2:8, with St Paul’s College looking to be in trouble. However, after the break they came back strongly, organising their defence far better and keeping possession of the ball to secure a win. The final score was 4.2:26 – 5.7:37.
Many athletes at the competition have been rewarded with invitations to join the AFL New Zealand High Performance Programme. This programme offers training, match play and development, and provides a pathway for talented athletes to secure New Zealand representation.
Various current members of the AFL New Zealand High Performance programme were involved with this tournament as coaches. Bay of Islands College student coaches Te Kopa Tipene-Thomas and Matiu Cowles have both represented New Zealand, as have Shane Leat and Tevita Misiloi, who coached Kelston Boys High School. Their involvement was a sign of the strength of the AFL New Zealand High Performance pathway.
As well as student coaches, the support of teachers is invaluable for the success of the Hawks Cup programme. Nik Warrensson of Kelston Boys High School has had a long involvement with Secondary Schools AFL. From Southern Cross College Daniel King and Misha Kravchenko coached the team. P.E teacher Joe Cunningham led St Paul’s College. One Tree Hill College teacher Terry Kimiangatau has also had a long involvement with AFL at his school, and was proud of his players finally winning the competition. One Tree Hill College have entered the Junior Hawks Cup since the inaugural competition in 2009.
In 2009, 15 schools entered what was then a a Junior tournament only. Since then, AFL New Zealand has expanded the competition to include a tournament for Senior students, and female students. The success of the female Hawks Cup programme was demonstrated in the recent international debut of the Under-18 New Zealand Kahus team, who became the first female representatives of New Zealand in AFL.
AFL New Zealand Secondary Schools Coordinator Mick Coultard expects the Hawks Cup will only continue to grow.
“With more than 30,000 children around the country being introduced to AFL through the AFL KiwiKick programme, an increase in the number of participants in secondary school programmes, and the increasing availability of televised AFL through Sommet Sports, we expect the Hawks Cup to be even bigger and better next year.”
With the Junior Hawks Cup completed, attention will now turn to the Senior Hawks Cup cluster tournaments, due to be contested in Term 1 of 2014. Year 10 players from this competition will be eligible to represent their school at the Senior Hawks Cup. For information on how your school can enter the Senior Hawks Cup, contact Mick Coultard, the AFL New Zealand Secondary Schools Coordinator.
The Hawks Cup is played in partnership with the 2013 AFL Premiers Hawthorn Football Club, who provide sponsorship and prizes for players. The tournament MVP, Rudi Sifa from Southern Cross College, was presented with a Hawthorn Hawks jersey as his prize.
AFL New Zealand is sanctioned by the New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council, and appears on the Sport New Zealand list of National Sporting Organisations.
Fixtures and Results:
Kelston BHS 18.3:21 – 6.4:40 Bay of Islands College
One Tree Hill College 6.2:38 – 4.4:28 Southern Cross College
Kelston BHS 3.3:21 – 10.6:66 One Tree Hill College
St Paul’s College 5.7:37 – 4.2:26 Bay of Islands College
One Tree Hill College 6.6:42 – 2.2:14 Bay of Islands College
Kelston BHS 1.0:6 – 9.7:61 St Paul’s College
St Paul’s College 3.2:20 – 7.9:51 Southern Cross College
Southern Cross College 9.6:60 – 1.3:9 Bay of Islands College
St Paul’s College 2.6:18 – 8.5:53 One Tree Hill College
Best Players on Ground:
Southern Cross College: Naisa Taylor
Bay of Islands College: Ben Armstrong
St Paul’s College: Christian Tupou
One Tree Hill College: Joshua Savea
Player of the Tournament: Rudi Sifa (Southern Cross College)
North Island Hawks Cup Cluster Tournaments:
Waitakere: Won by Kelston Boys High School
North Harbour: Won by Rosmini College
Auckland Central: Won by One Tree Hill College
Counties: Won by Southern Cross Campus
Wellington: Won by Wellington College
Northland: Won by Bay of Islands College