Young locals excel at sport

For a small rural community, the Wedderburn district boasts a high percentage of children selected for representative sides or who hold Otago sports titles, residents say. Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
For a small rural community, the Wedderburn district boasts a high percentage of children selected for representative sides or who hold Otago sports titles, residents say. Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
There's nothing in the water, it's just down to a rural "can-do" attitude and parental support.

So say Wedderburn residents on why so many of the district's youngsters have made it on to representative sports teams, or attained Otago titles in various sports, in recent times.

Wedderburn children are achieving at high level in a host of codes, including rugby, netball, cricket, hockey, curling, swimming, athletics, rippa rugby and the luge.

Many of the young Central Otago and Otago representatives from the district are aged 10, 11 or 12, while Liam Dowling (18) was selected for a national side - the New Zealand junior men's curling team.

"If we still had a [primary] school at Wedderburn, the majority of the school roll would be in rep teams," Wedderburn resident Stuart Duncan said.

"It's a small community but we punch above our weight when it comes to providing rep players and Otago title holders.

"It's been that way for a long time, going back to the 1950s when lots of Wedderburn players were in the country rugby team.

"There's a can-do attitude here, but you find that in all rural communities.

"It's very sports-orientated and the kids just love it. They fly into it and they're very competitive."

Support from parents was also pivotal, with children often having to be transported long distances to train and compete.

Probably two-thirds or more of the Wedderburn families with school-age children had one child or more selected for a representative team during the past year, Mr Duncan said.

They included the Smiths, Dowlings, Girvans, Geoffreys, Beckers, Adamsons, Kerrs, Cormacks, Duncans and Jorgensens.