Masen Schlaepfer started his first season of rugby when he was four years of age. “ I just liked running around and kicking the ball.”
Now Mason is 12 years old, and he has far more plans regarding rugby on his mind.
With the help of his parents, Kim and Mel Schlaepfer, he is busy preparing for a six hour Kick A Thon to raise money for Kick for Kids.The idea came one night when he was watching Dan Carter, one of his All Blacks rugby heroes. Dan was kicking goals for 24 hours to raise money for UNICEF. That inspired Masen.
He tells it like this. “I love rugby and I love kicking goals. I also love conversions and scoring trys, and I often practise in my spare time. I love it. So, I thought that I would like to do something similar to the Gumboot Friday Charity. I talked with my parents, and they agreed with this idea and have helped me organise everything to raise the money. So on Saturday, 10 December, I will be kicking goals for 6 hours down at Lyons Park to raise money, so that kids like myself can receive free counselling. I hope people will come down on that day and donate money or go to the Give A Little page.
Masen practises every day, and many in the community - individuals and businesses, have offered to support this cause. Masen has some long-term plans and he sets them out in steps, all building in one direction.
“At the moment, I am playing for Mercury Bay Area School, Year 7s. Next, it is going to be Hamilton Boys High First XV; then NZ Secondary Schools Team, then the Swamp Foxes, and then my dream - the All Blacks.” Masen lives and breathes the All Blacks, and he practises hard with an exceptional fine, accurate and strong kick for a 12-year-old. Go well Masen.
On 23 October this year, Seth Smith set off for Argentina to represent New Zealand in the world Skate Championships. He was going as New Zealand champion in the scooter section. At 16, he was competing in the Under 17 category and against other national champions. Seth, who attends MBAS school, says, “It was very exciting for me to represent New Zealand and to travel so far away. I think I managed it very well. For the first two days, we just trained, as each skater must become familiar with the new track. I got into the finals and for this, I was competing against Spain, America and one other kiwi: two representatives in each finalist team. You have 45 seconds for a run, and you have two runs. I was very nervous for the first run but not so much for the second. After that, you are judged on your spot tricks. You do five tricks, and the judges decide points on the best trick you have performed. My best trick is “the full whip finger.”
Seth proudly showed his silver medal. He came second in the world championships, and he sets out his plans for the future. “My next project is the national skating championships in Napier in January. Then it is the Freestyle Roller Sports on Waitangi weekend, also in Napier. Then, and Seth has a glint in his eye, it’s 2028 for me. Scooters will be an Olympic sport at the 2028 Olympics, and I am aiming to represent New Zealand and win a gold medal. I have 6 years. As with all his challenges, his mother, Karyn is there to support him and be a mainstay. They are a good team.
Both Seth and Masen have the skills and character to achieve their dreams. They will need determination and resilience from within, but from their community, they will need the right training from the best people and from all of us, encouragement, and support during the coming years.
Remember these names - Masen Schlaepfer and Seth Smith.