New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame: 25 Kiwi champions

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NZ hall of fame

GILL, Maria (text) Marco Ivancic (illus.) New Zealand Sports Hall of Fame 25 Kiwi Champions, New Holland, 2014 64pp NZ$24.99 pbk ISBN 9781869664220 SCIS 1675297

Young people need inspiration and this book may be part of that pathway.  There is no doubt that the idea, let alone the reality, of the hero and being ‘heroic’ appeals (especially to boys).  But is heroism simply wishful thinking or is it more about strategic thinking (hope theory and all that)?  This issue underpins much of this inspiring book of famous NZ sport heroes.  Divided into key different sporting domains (aquatic and water sports, athletics, equestrian, gymnastics, snow sports, team sports and wheel sports) as ‘chapters’, each person is given a double-page spread that gives further details about the nature of the sport, a brief biography, a timeline at the top of the page, a trophy board of achievement, a statement of each person’s training programme and finally, a direct quote from each sportsperson.  These statements are indeed pertinent to the question posed at the start of this review.  As Mark Sorenson, an all-time softball great, puts it, ‘Dreams can come true if you’re prepared to work hard enough.  Be prepared to make sacrifices to make it happen.’ (p.51) The common messages from the sports people are indeed about the elements of strategic thinking: for example; planning goals, self-belief, perseverance, accepting defeat and moving forward.

One of the challenges for many teachers is the issue of egocentricity and the lack of impulse control of some of their children/ young people.  There are a variety of causes but, rather than simply seeing it as part of the behaviour management ‘programme’, this book invites us to see these issues as a basis for a curriculum.  Look at the different training programmes.  What you see is often tough extrinsic events (like gruelling fitness requirements).  But what the sports people also talk about is the intrinsic: positive thinking, the necessity for hard work, being a team member and taking the hard hits on the shoulder.  Intrinsically success is the goal and impulse control is the name of the game.  Here is a wonderful curriculum.  Highly recommended.

reviewed by John McKenzie

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