Monday, 06 July 2020


Plenty of local names to feature at 2019 District Sports Awards

Mercury Bay Area School features strongly in the list of nominees for this year’s Hauraki/Thames Coromandel District Sports Awards which take place on Tuesday, 26 November.

Both the Mercury Bay Senior Girls Basketball and Senior Girls Football teams have been nominated in the team of the year category. Geoff Horton has also received a nomination for his work coaching the girls football. Holly McCleery is listed for her overall Contribution to Sports as a coach, player and referee.

In the Secondary School Sportsperson category, rugby league player Caleb Tane has been nominated along with athlete Sally Mills. The school has also recognised the efforts of three up and coming young referees, nominating Darnika Urlich, Brodi Springer and Adam Clague in the officials category.

Darnika told The Informer she was excited and surprised to receive the nomination. The 15-year-old has been umpiring rippa, touch and netball, since first taking up refereeing in 2018. “Leisa McCleery, our sports co-ordinator at school, asked me if I’d be interested in refereeing some rippa games earlier in the year. I said I’d give it a go and I really enjoyed it. It all just grew from there,” she said. The Year 10 student attended a refereeing course to learn the basic skills and has since been taking charge of games regularly for the school and the Whitianga Touch Club. She has been on the whistle at several Thames Valley and Waikato Regional tournaments.

“It is great when you referee the primary school kids. Often they are still learning the game and you get to help them out by explaining things to them. I have refereed a few games when students from my old school Tairua were playing. They are always so excited to see you which is really nice.”

Darnika says learning the art of refereeing alongside her friends Brodi and Adam has been fun. “We help each other out, it’s another thing we have in common and we enjoy talking about it and trying to improve together,” she said. Playing both school and Thames Valley reps netball this year meant there was limited opportunity to umpire netball this season but Darnika still managed to help out with some Year 5-6 and 7-8 games. However, her main refereeing focus has been on rippa and touch. Next on the agenda is to get a formal qualification.

“I’m going to do my Level 1 coaching course. I’m not thinking about a career at this stage but I definitely want to keep moving forward and we’ll see where it goes in the future.”

Also in the running for a District Sports Awards this year is Tairua school teacher, Chris Hogarth, who has been nominated for helping the school team reach the national rippa finals in Wellington where they finished fourth.

Pictured: Refereeing at the recent Thames Valley Primary Schools touch tournament in Whitianga is Darnika Urlich, one of several Mercury Bay Area School nominees in the 2019 Hauraki/Thames Coromandel District Sports Awards.


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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.