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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 4 (July 1, 1939)

Panorama of the Playground — Trends Of Sport In New Zealand

page 63

Panorama of the Playground
Trends Of Sport In New Zealand

Slowly, but surely, a change is coming over the national outlook on sport in New Zealand—and Australia. In these countries, cricket and football have long been the national sports; Rugby football in New Zealand and Rugby League in Australia. But the change is coming.

The introduction of faster sport is but a sign of the times. It would be heresy to suggest that baseball will ever take the place of cricket in the heart of Australians, but the game has made such headway in New Zealand that such a change is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

No other game has made such headway in New Zealand in such a short space of time. Two years ago the game was almost unknown—apart from the newsreels which people could not understand. Last summer the baseballers in New Zealand totalled more than 2,000 and are increasing all the time.

Credit for the introduction of “softball,” a modified form of baseball, to New Zealand must go to missionaries of the Church of the Latter Day Saints—Mormon missionaries. Of these, Elder Toronto, stationed variously at Wellington and Christchurch, has been a live-wire.

And, in alliance with the Y.M.C.A., these same men have had much to do with the boosting of basketball in New Zealand.

The average New Zealander would class basketball as a “girl's game” …. until he had played it. Introduced into New Zealand by the recently-deceased R. O. (“Dick”) Jarrett, who also introduced physical exercises into New Zealand schools and was the first athelete to use the crouch start in this country, basketball has languished for years.

To-day it is thriving and gaining new adherents weekly. Many star footballers have found it to be the ideal sport to achieve physical fitness; some have used it as part of their Rugby training, others have forsaken football for basketball.

And ther is wrestling! The introduction, in America, of flying tackles and drop-kicks brought the sport into the headlines and each year sees some new phase of the mat-game exploited.

New Zealand's patronage of wrestling has been so consistently good that the world's best wrestlers are now brought to these shores. Much of this is due to the improvement made by “Lofty” Blomfield, the Wellington-born athelete who forsook a Rugby career to concentrate on wrestling. Blomfield drew with the world champion last year and is now in line for a world title match in New Zealand this season.

Wrestlers are great users of the railway service in New Zealand—and great boosters for it, too. In America they prefer to travel by their own cars—find rail travelling irksome—but in New Zealand they stand firm by the railways.

And this praise for New Zealand is not confined to discussions in New Zealand. Paul Boesch, making his second visit to New Zealand, took the opportunity of addressing organisations in America when he returned home three years ago—and told them about God's Own Country. Ed Don George, a former world champion, also wrote articles—syndicated throughout America and Canada—telling of the beauties of New Zealand and its wonderful fishing and shooting.

Wrestlers see the world—and tell the world about New Zealand. Next time you see wrestlers in action, remember that most of them leave these shores as boosters for our country—and help to send tourists this way.

Railway Workshop Gymnasium Boxers.

What would the Wellington Boxing Association do for amateur boxers if it did not have the services of the Railway Workshops Gymnasium boxers? That was a question asked me a few days ago. It is not an easy one to answer. At each professional match staged in Wellington, most of the amateur supports include representatives from the Railway Workshops gymnasium … and most of these boys win their bouts. So regular are the appearances of railway boxers in Wellington that a chorus of disapproval went up recently when a boxer to meet a railway lad walked across the ring to occupy the corner usually used by railway boxers. That corner was more or less held sacred for railway boxers.

A Most Generous Offer.

Formerly in the service of the N.Z. Railways, but nowadays a leading New Zealand business-man, Mr. Ben Sutherland has made a generous offer to provide the salary and travelling expenses of an English graduate of Physical Education to be engaged for three years in Wellington. He has suggested that the coach be used by the Secondary Schools, each school to have his services for one half-day weekly. page break Further to this scheme, I received a letter from Capt. F. A. M. Webster, head of the Loughborough School of Athletics, offering to send the “pick of the bunch graduating in July.” As yet, the offer from Mr. Sutherland has not been accepted, but hopes are expressed that the difficulties in the way will be overcome.

It is a most generous offer—in terms of money it is worth more than £1200—but the value in physical fitness and health cannot be measured in financial terms.

Coaching School for Young Rugby Players.

Banned last season because Wellington schoolmasters did not realise its true worth, a coaching school for young Rugby players is to be brought into operation in Wellington this season. When the scheme was first started, the schoolmasters took up the attitude that the young fellows were going to do too much, that they had sufficient Rugby in their own competitions. However, the scheme did not provide for games. It was based on sound instruction on the many phases of the game, with former representatives—or present stars of the Rugby world—showing the lads how to kick, pass and tackle.

With all due respect to schoolteachers, many of them are not in the fortunate position of having been sound Rugby players and any scheme to improve the standard of New Zealand's national sport—without interfering with the status of the men in charge—is worthy of encouragement.

“Unclimbed New Zealand,” by John Pascoe, F.R.G.S., a review of which appeared in our June issue, is published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd., London, and is priced at 19/6.

A Raid On Romancecontinued from page 51.
Flies open with a bang and—wow!
Out rush the prisoned inmates, pell and mell.
The long imprisoned homicidal thought
Leaps howling, with the timid little sneak
Who would the discount from the gas purloin—
A spate of old repressions wild and meek,
All milling madly down the corridor
To give expression to their captive flairs—
Some on the smash-and-grab and others worse,

(Photo., Neville R. Lewers). Familiar mountain country near Cass Station, Midland Line, South Island.

(Photo., Neville R. Lewers).
Familiar mountain country near Cass Station, Midland Line, South Island.

All seeking freedom singly or in pairs.
A scrimmage of forgotten thoughts that leap
And take possession madly whilst we sleep,
That slug the warders of our conscious brain
And give us visions not entirely sane.
So having debunked the debunkers we close on the implring note:—
Don't take our wild and woolly dreams away,
The only outlet left the reeling brain!
If glumly sane we must be every day
At least at night we like to be insane.