With a total of four participating teams, New Zealand Scorpions and Cons along with the hosting team the Papa Sharks’ and Rarotonga participants Masters Cook Islands, the “yesteryears heroes” had great fun in the week-long Masters Mini League competition.
And they could not have been prouder of their achievements as players and as supporters.
Joining the competition as supporting teams were the Shirley Hawks and Eagles from Christchurch, New Zealand. The Aitutaki trip was part of their “wind-down” session.
CIMRL spokesman Simiona Teiotu expressed their gratitude to the Aitutaki people for hosting them.
He said the masters players also attended the Aitutaki Golf fundraiser on Thursday as a sign of support for their cause.
The league clash on Friday was opened by the Aitutaki under-18s town and country teams before the rugby “legends” took the field.
The first game was between the New Zealand Scorpions and the Papa Sharks while the Master’s Cook Islands filled in to make up the numbers for support. “The entire tournament was amazing, and we are all very overwhelmed by the support from both our people back home in Rarotonga and in Aitutaki,” says Teiotu.
“We even had a large tourist contingent that came out to watch a good game of footy.
“Everyone played in the spirit of the Masters and it is never about the points, but rather the fun.
“It’s also about keeping the old body moving, and ensuring everyone’s warrant of fitness is current and in full operation.”
Despite the odd bump and bruise to some of the players, there was no stopping them when it came to celebrating their achievements later that evening.
To conclude the tournament, a celebratory prizegiving and wrap-up was held at the Aitutaki Fishing Club, where swarms of people, both locals and visitors, came together to acknowledge the sportsmanship shown by the players.
With everyone on their best behaviour, all were looking forward to a day out on the motu, kindly organised by Ngatere and her team the next morning.
“We wanted to give our friends from overseas the opportunity to see for themselves exactly what our paradise is all about,” says Teiotu.
“And who better to show them but the true locals of Aitutaki.
“None of this could have been possible without the support of some key players.”
The Cook Islands Master’s League thanks Yanis and his team at Air Rarotonga for their tremendous sponsorship over the last 10 years. Thanks also to the Arutanga Boys Brigade, Avatiu papas , Ngatangiia Sea Eagles, Takuvaine TKV Club, Rohan Ellis and the Akirata Dance group, Boogies, the Arorangi Mansion (mama and papa Pokolong) and all family, friends and supporters who got behind the cause.