Into its 14th year, the Anchor AIMS Games gives Year seven and eight students (11, 12 and 13 year olds) an opportunity to compete against the best of their age in New Zealand and invited countries.
They will compete in 21 sports codes, including badminton, and will be hosted in superb facilities, with over 10,000 participants from over 275 schools.
The six players are Daniel Apii Jnr and Laurids Rasmussen of Nukutere College, Nicolea Mateariki and Randi Marsters of Apii Avarua and Hannah Hosea and Mary Mare of Papaaroa Adventist School.
They will be accompanied by their coach Ngaoa Ranginui and team manager Hebrew Tom.
The team has been in training for the past four months after a lengthy trial period which began in February.
They will each compete in the singles and doubles competition spread over five days, and at the Queen Elizabeth II Youth Centre.
This is the second team of junior badminton players to have represented the country at the competition.
In 2016 ten students travelled to Tauranga to compete in the AIMS Games as part of Cook Island Badmintons four-year junior development programme.
AIMS Games is the next step from “ShuttleTime”, the Cook Islands school badminton programme which has been introduced to most schools on Rarotonga.
One of the programme’s main objectives is to give all children an opportunity to try the sport.
The team’s fundraising efforts involved a badminton marathon which in which they completed a series of challenges.
Each player had to collect sponsors from friends and family who would either give money for each successfully completed challenge, or a donation.
The event was timed so a visiting Tolaga Bay Area School badminton team could join in.
It was a friendship formed between Cook Islands junior players and the team from the East Coast of New Zealand at the 2016 AIMS Games that helped make the dream trip a reality for the Kiwis.
The East Coast team visited Rarotonga in July, creating an opportunity for both teams to get some court time and competition and catch up with their friends.
The Cook Islands team has been working hard on and off the court with training and competing in this year’s college badminton tournament.
They have also been part of the AIMS Games publicity campaign during which media manager Jamie Troughton travelled to Rarotonga and conducted a special photo shoot covering the team’s AIMS Games preparations.
Cook Islands Badminton thank sponsors Bank of South Pacific for sponsoring the player’s tracksuits, Island Craft for sponsoring special pins for the players gift exchange and families and supporters for all their assistance and encouragement.
To learn more about the Anchor AIMS Games visit their Facebook page and check out the live streaming of the event.