Zonta Club of Christchurch South celebrates young athletes
For 33 years, the Zonta Club of Christchurch South, New Zealand, has held its Zonta Sports Award to celebrate the local high school athletes' achievements.
Every October, hundreds of young sportsmen and women hope to be recognized for their sporting efforts over the past 12 months at the club's prestigious event. The award is one of the club's main public activities, exposing Zonta International and enhancing its local, national and international profile.
What originated as an awards event for young sportswomen soon expanded to include boys, with entries received in seven categories: the top sportsperson of the year to the best team, the best umpire or referee to sportspeople with a disability who have succeeded beyond compare and more.
Club members Jan Fortune and Alli Husband, who currently co-chair the Sports Awards committee for the club, say it is beautiful to see it has become such an anticipated evening on the high school students' calendars.
"They want to have the honor of winning a Zonta Sports Award; they want to be able to add it to their CV. The enthusiasm and energy of these young people are truly inspiring," says Alli. "It makes our job so worthwhile."
Teamed with the School Sport Canterbury, which organizes competitive sports throughout the region, the club has established a well-supported and well-recognized event.
About 350-400 students, parents and supporters attend the annual awards dinner, which always features an inspirational address by a prominent local athlete, including, on occasion, Olympians. These have included Olympian swimmer Danyon Loader; Dame Sophie Pascoe, an 11-time Paralympic gold medalist; and Charlotte Bellis, who studied in the US on a tennis scholarship and more recently was the first woman journalist back into Afghanistan following the takeover by the Taliban.
"We manage to secure sponsorships for prizes and the venue. The local polytechnic, Ara, helps with commentary by broadcasting students, and the overall support from the community is outstanding," says Alli. "The awards receive significant media coverage. It is so exciting for us, as well as for the students. And watching past winners go on to perform at world and Olympic level is a real thrill."
l polytechnic, Ara, helps with commentary by broadcasting students, and the overall support from the community is outstanding," says Alli. "The awards has also received significant media coverage.