Five young Canterbury sportspeople have been awarded NZRB Scholarships at the recent Canterbury Sports Awards dinner, held on Friday 9 March at Wigram Air Force Museum.

The talented group, representing rowing, gymnastics, basketball, rugby and rugby league will each benefit from a scholarship programme that provides additional coaching, support, competition, and attainment of higher standards for young Canterbury athletes.

The NZRB Scholarship recipients for 2018 are:
Thomas Russel - Rowing
Stella Ashcroft - Gymnastics
Helen Matthews - Basketball
Christina Fifita - Rugby
Jordan Coleman - Rugby League

This year, the scholarships were presented by Peter O’Reilly, NZRB Grants Compliance Manager. He oversees many of the grants for grassroots sporting organisations across the country, and left the awards ceremony buzzing on prospects of the five recipients, if not a little concerned for his local Wellington teams and athletes.

“Presenting these scholarships at the Canterbury Sports Awards has been an highlight of the year so far.” said Peter. “They’re such a fantastic group of young people, who will no doubt go on to do great things both nationally and hopefully on the world stage - just not against Wellington I hope!”

L to R: Thomas Russel, Veronica Wall, Peter O’Reilly, Jordan Coleman, Christina Fifita, Helen Matthews. Absent: Stella Ashcroft.

In NZRB's first year of providing the scholarship in 2017, the four scholars included rowing prodigy Veronica Wall, who now has an individual NZRB sponsorship to assist her progression in the junior world rowing competitions around the world.

‘We are very pleased to be helping develop the next generation of Kiwi sportspeople,” says John Allen, NZRB CEO.

“We know it takes an incredible amount of time, dedication and determination to excel in a sporting field, and we want to recognise and congratulate these up and coming young people for taking a chance and pursuing their sporting dreams.”

The NZRB Scholarship will be a big help to these students, with Canterbury Sports Foundation spokesman John Wylie identifying big competitions for the athletes coming up this year.

“Stella Ashcroft will be in action at the Commonwealth Games in gymnastics, while Thomas Russel has just gained selection stroking the NZ under 23 Coxless Four at the World Championships, so they will both be in action shortly.”

“Last year’s scholarship to Veronica Wall and her ambassador role has seen her shine at the New Zealand nationals and she is on the water all next week at the Maadi Cup, the National school champs. The NZRB have played an invaluable role in these young athletes careers.”

The Canterbury Sports Foundation was established with a $40,000 surplus from the 1974 Commonwealth Games to assist youth sport in the region.

NZRB is also a significant supporter of sports in New Zealand – in 2016/17 NZRB provided $9.3 million in commission payments to National Sporting Organisations, and paid out $3.2 million in Gaming grants to grassroots community sporting organisations.