To the Canterbury Athletic Community,
My name is Ian Thomas. It is with great pleasure that I accepted the newly created position of General Manager for Athletics Canterbury, only one of a few Centres in New Zealand to have such a role. This is a natural progression after investing so much of my personal time in community sport. My PE teacher recommended athletics at an early age, I was spotted by a coach as a teen and trained-up to compete. I later turned to coaching at university, and still enjoy helping build-up fitness and confidence in teams. My experience working alongside businesses in a variety of industries across Canterbury will stand me in good stead as I find mutually beneficial partnerships for athletics.
This appointment coincides with Christchurch’s exciting new sporting chapter as the new The The Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub facility nears completion. This sporting hub has been built with Christchurch City Council, community collaboration and business partnerships, and I am looking forward to engaging with the other three sports as we work together.
Two years ago, when your Executive Committee President Andrew Stark became involved as the athletics representative working with CCC, he soon realised that as an organisation of volunteers, Athletics Canterbury needed to become more professional about how the sport was run within the region. Creating this General Manager’s role is the first step taken by your Executive Committee to create a more professional organisation. Success in this role, will allow me to create a team that not only helps to administer the sport but also develop it’s potential across the region, that builds depth and retains talent within our sport.
I would first and foremost like to acknowledge the volunteer leaders who have helped Athletics Canterbury get to where you are now. Having spoken with Andrew, I can see just how fully committed you are as an organisation, in growing athletics in Canterbury, not just track and field but also cross-country & road running. I know that thousands of volunteer hours have already gone into working with CCC to ensure you have a Class One certified venue and you are nearly there. You are fortunate to have people willing to do this on your behalf.
Understandably my initial focus will be on helping to get the The Ngā Puna Wai Sport Hub facility up and running smoothly and by doing so, take some of the pressure off the local volunteers who have worked hard to get to this point.
Nga Puna Wai will truly be a great venue. I understand that some money set aside for equipment has now been spent on the building infrastructure and field event areas. One of my objectives is to seek out potential sponsors and create business relationship that will enable us to complete what needs to be done in Stage 1 and beyond. A call has gone out to the local athletic community to donate what you can. However, there will be many media opportunities for those who want to reach a broad sector of the community in a relaxed environment and I am keen to hear from those people wishing to donate or invest in the options the new stadium provides.
There has been a lot of emphasis on rebuilding Christchurch. The Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub will have a positive impact on sport in the region and also for the business sector and the community at large. I am keen to explore how we engage with the wider community by creating new community ‘have a go’ events with the aim of making more people more active and through this, strengthening your clubs! There is also a need to create more professional sport development pathways, which includes enhancing coaching and recognising officials.
I am up for the challenge and really looking forward to meeting you all and working together to strengthen the sport of athletics in the Canterbury region.
Yours in athletics,