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Athletes Benefit as Community Sport and Fitness Vision Takes Shape

December 18, 2017

EIT’s Marcus Agnew with students from Hastings Girls’ High School participating in conditioning training at the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust gym at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park.

The region’s promising young sportspeople are being helped to reach their full potential through an initiative involving EIT and the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust.

Finding the motivation to get to the gym can be a struggle – even for the most dedicated of athletes. But there are no such issues for a group of young sportspeople training at a new temporary facility at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park.

Demand for the EIT-backed athlete development programme has greatly exceeded expectation since it opened its doors in late 2016.

The programme is part of a vision EIT has been developing since 2009 when biomechanics lecturer Marcus Agnew began researching the benefits of developing a community-centred sport, exercise and health research facility.

Further research and collaboration with Sport Hawke’s Bay, and a business proposal from EIT’s School of Business followed and, in 2015 then CEO of Sport Hawke’s Bay Colin Stone, facilitated an introduction between Marcus and Sileni Estates owner and founder of Auckland’s AUT Millennium, Sir Graeme Avery. In 2016 Sir Graeme led the vision to an exciting new level, announcing plans for a major sport and health hub at the Regional Sports Park.

Meanwhile Marcus has been working with local schools, young athletes and regional sports organisations in his role as health and sport development manager for the Hawke’s Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust.

“There’s a strong synergy between what the Trust, EIT and the other stakeholders want to achieve, and because of that synergy we’re already seeing great results,” says Marcus.

“We’re assisting young athletes from schools and sports codes from Wairoa to Central Hawke’s Bay, helping them with strength training, stamina, nutrition advice, life coaching and sport psychology. It’s specialised training – not previously on offer in Hawke’s Bay – that is vital for enabling them to reach their full potential.”

Faculty of Education, Humanities and Health Science executive dean Professor Natalie Waran says EIT’s involvement in developments at the Sports Park is an exciting example of a community-centred approach to education and research aimed at improving regional health knowledge and outcomes.

The sports science educational programmes and study programmes offered by the School of Health and Sport Science were restructured to better engage with the community, head of school Kirsten Westwood says. The vision for EIT’s involvement at the Sports Park builds on that energy, opening up many exciting educational and research possibilities for both students and lecturers.