Nelson College claim sports team of the year

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The national champion Nelson College football team claimed further honours on Sunday when they were named Team of the Year at the Tasman Secondary Schools Sports Awards held at the Theatre Royal in Nelson.

Nelson College First XI was a deserved winner of the top team award after claiming their first national secondary schools football title at Saxton Field in September. One of their many star players, Atkin Kaua, was also honoured when he was named Sportsman of the Year.

Atkin was a worthy winner following his MVP performance in Nelson’s historic win and scoring 10 goals for Nelson Suburbs in the Mainland Premier League. The Solomon Islands’ mid-fielder was also named in the Canterbury United squad.

One of the football team’s co-captains, Matt Tod-Smith, says they were honoured to receive the award with so many “good teams and athletes nominated”. The award capped a memorable season that started with a “dream” to win the national championships. “We knew we had a good team and could do well at nationals, but the idea of winning it was a dream,” Matt says. “It’s all been pretty surreal.”

Nelson College for Girls’ underwater hockey star Jessica Sturrock won Sportswoman of the Year, just days after being named the top sportswoman at her school. Jessica, 18, captained her school to its first national underwater hockey championships in 21 years and represented New Zealand under-23 at the world championships in Spain where they finished fifth.

Nelson College students Ben Anderson (basketball and touch), Timu Faingaanuku (rugby), Eugene Cech (skiing), Matai McGuinniety (swimming) and Kit Vining (underwater hockey) won awards in their sports. Nelson College for Girls students Tali Uia (beach volleyball), Geena Gross (football), Ruby Friend (climbing), Abbey Franklin (netball), Sasha Cullum (rowing), Louise Stevenson (shooting), Hannah McKay-Wright (skiing) and Annie Grimes (weightlifting) were the award winners in their sports. Nayland College’s Tayla and Connor Nesbitt won awards for table tennis while Kalani Sheridan won an award for cross-country.

The ASB People’s Choice Award was won by Nelson College basketballer, Max Darling.