Canterbury and Counties

SNZ AWARDS - 10-27

The association of the year title is awarded to an association who has been able to implement and deliver development programmes, has inclusive practices enabling participation, who has shown growth of park and facilities while also having strong community engagement. This season finds us in the incredibly fortunate position of having two such associations within our ranks, who have done a tremendous job with developing grassroots participation, while creating environments where players can thrive in the sport and ticking the boxes when it comes to Association of the Year.

Counties Manukau Softball Association is a tight knit whānau based Association, who all gather together to tautoko and awhi, in keeping the sport we all love thriving. They have done a tremendous job with developing tamariki and rangitahi, going above and beyond to offer skills clinics and softball IQ sessions to cover basics like throwing and catching. Their hard work paying off with the association being prominent National age-grade competition, their club numbers increasing to 12, whilst having a large number of youths recognised in National squads, and age grade representative teams making finals across the country. It is a testament to the work being put in behind the scenes by dedicated coaches and administrative staff, who are committed to creating the best environment and opportunities for their player base, whilst creating strong community ties and family connection. This season saw the start of the redevelopment of Prince Edward Park, taking months of planning and collaboration, which has now reinvigorated the facilities and created more opportunity for hosting tournaments.

Aside from the impressive performances on the diamond by Canterbury Softball this season, the Canterbury Softball Association has shown great growth in both their player base and in delivering adaptive competition. Their social media has been second to none, receiving high levels of community engagement (regional and national) off speedy posts and impressive graphics. Each week they have comprehensive coverage of games – including write-ups – which translated into the National competitions they held this season. They have introduced inclusive programmes for participation outside the standard player base, which has seen initiatives with disability groups including Parafed, The Special Olympics and Helen Anderson Trust, offering adaptive and accessible softball/T Ball experiences while making the most of their astroturf diamonds. Not only this, they have bought in programmes partnering with local marae, after school ‘Stay & Play’, and Kiwi Sox School programmes which were delivered to 9,000 kids in term 4 alone!

Both associations have operated programmes within a tightening funding environment, yet have continued to offer excellent support to their players, clubs and wider community and are deserved recipients of this seasons Association of the Year award.