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Athletics re-elects president, focuses on building infrastructure for future growth

Tuesday 9 April 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Athletics, Sports

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Athletics re-elects president, focuses on building infrastructure for future growth
Athletics Cook Islands team and management with Simone Fe’ao (first from left) who was re-elected for a second term as president of Athletics Cook Islands at the Annual General Meeting held a week ago. Photo: LOSIRENE LACANIVALU / 23111902

Simone Fe’ao was re-elected for a second term as president of Athletics Cook Islands at the Annual General Meeting held a week ago.

Fe’ao said they had a successful AGM to close out the 2023 year. Looking at 2024, she said that in December last year they had a planning meeting for an exciting and busy year ahead.

“Our 2024 focus is to build up our infrastructure – development programmes, coaching team, qualified officials, administrative systems so that we can contain the next level of growth we anticipate.”

In the president’s report for 2023, Fe’ao said grassroot Kids Athletics was an integral programme and they continued to offer the eight week athletics foundations programme in primary schools in Aitutaki and Rarotonga.

“It was noted there was scope to provide the Kids Athletics programme as a tailored programme for coaching children with disabilities in schools.

“Cooperation with staff and administrators has started an active conversation and implementation of an ongoing programme for the rest of 2023 and to continue throughout 2024.”

For Global Kids Athletics Day, she said Rarotonga, Atiu, Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mitiaro and Mauke participated with a total of over 500 children and they were awarded the World Athletics Kids Athletics Day global winner prize.

Fe’ao said the money received from this prize was used to buy Kids Athletics equipment for all the participating islands to utilise in growing the presence as well as setting up an inter-island youth competition for ages 11-18 years old.

The first competition was held in Aitutaki on February 16, 2024.

The National Primary School Champs was held in late September 2023 with 700 athletes.

Athletics Cook Islands also continued with youth athletics training three times a week for keen athletes and held the National Youth Champs in September attracting 200 athletes including athletes from Aitutaki and Mangaia.

They are currently in the process of developing more defined pathways for youths with better access to training and competition at the right level.

Athletics Cook Islands is planning to hold an inter-island youth competition and participate in the New Zealand North Island Secondary School Champs this month. It is also considering sending a team to a youth competition with Tahiti.

The National Opens and Masters Champs was held mid-October 2023 where Fe’ao says a small contingent of approximately 40 athletes participated.

She said that there were lots of other sports codes on and many were training for Pacific Games so were not releasing athletes to other codes.

“We were only able to get two athletes from Aitutaki due to cost and timing.

“We would like to consider holding National Champs every second year where we can leverage off the Cook Islands Games and will have a true national comp with the outer islands joining in.”

For outer islands, Fe’ao said the Kids Athletics programme and the National Youth Champs have helped to increase participation in Aitutaki and Mangaia. By identifying a key person on each island to promote and organise athletic training and events, they have been able to achieve this.

This year also saw the introduction of a Village Athletics Competition.

She said Aitutaki and Mangaia youth athletes participated in the National Youth Champs, and coaches, officials and athletes from both islands attended the development academy.

Athletics Cook Islands also organised its annual awards after a lapse of many years.

Fe’ao said it was a celebration of the dedication, hard work, and achievements of the athletes, coaches, and administrators who have contributed to the growth and success of athletics in the Cook Islands community.

There were 13 categories that were awarded from Junior Boy and Girl Athlete of the Year through to senior grades and special awards for Volunteer of the Year and Most Promising Athlete of the Year.

The 2024 board members are vice president- Michael Tolosa, treasurer- Haua Koroa, secretary- Gina Bamber and committee members - David Lobb, Rangi Ivaiti, Teaea Parima, Tuaine Rota, Jacob Pynenburg, and Naomi Arokapiti.