The Anchor Aims Games has just gotten even bigger with the inclusion of new codes announced for the big event of 2019.
The organizers of the middle-aged tournament, to be held in Tauranga between September 8 and 13 next year, will feature a series of new events, bringing the total number of sports disciplines to 25.
Among the new codes are mountain bike and the traditional Maori kī-o-rahi ball game, while basketball and rugby have more divisions added in the form of 3×3 basketball and Rippa Rugby.
A new sports canoeing code has also been introduced, with canoeing (sprint) races added to the existing canoeing event in slalom.
Tournament director Vicki Semple said the additional codes reflect the changing sport scene in New Zealand.
"It's not about making it bigger, it's about making it the best," Semple said.
"We want to be as inclusive as possible and we want to give small rural schools a chance to compete on the same level as the schools in big cities."
The success of mixed hockey from six in 2014 was a major booster of the expansion of basketball and rugby – the 16 mixed teams of hockey that grew to 56 in the first year.
Futsal was also introduced in 2016 – and the indoor soccer alternative increased from 23 teams to 61 in that period.
The inclusion of kī-o-rahi is a nod to the growing number of kura who attend the Aims Games.
"It means that schools that can not form a complete rugby team, a football team or even have enough players for a basketball or netball team will not be at a disadvantage," Semple said.
"It's also a reflection of how traditional sports in New Zealand are evolving so they can stay relevant. We would like to think that these changes are helping us stay ahead of the curve, leading us to be an exemplary event" .
Approximately 10,900 athletes participated in this year's Aims Games in September, representing nearly 330 schools in New Zealand and the Pacific.
The introduction of mountainbiking was paved by this year's premiere climb, the inclusion of BMX in 2016 and aided by the recent success of Mountainbike Tauranga hosting the North Island high school championships at Summerhill Recreational Park in Welcome Bay.
The code allows multi-sport athletes to be another competitive element in the tournament.
"It's vital that kids at that age do not specialize too soon – they need to try out as many sports and hobbies as possible and develop complete skills and pleasures," Semple said.
"This is a huge driver for us to give our competitors as many options as possible and also expose them to other sports they have not experienced before."
Codes 2019: Badminton, Basketball (boys, girls and 3×3 mixed), BMX, Canoeing (sprint and slalom), Cheerleading, Cross Country, Football, Futsal, Golf, Gymnastics (including AeroDance), Hip Hop, Hockey, Indoor Bowls, Kī O Rahi, Mountain biking, Sports, Netball, Climbing, Rugby (boys, girls and Rippa), Squash, Swimming, Table tennis, Tennis, Water polo, Yachting.