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Student Voice

15 October 2018

The AIMS Games Go International

The AIMS Games Go International

Hosted in Tauranga each year, the Anchor AIMS Games are a sporting championship competition for intermediate aged students. AIMS is the largest sporting event in New Zealand with over 10,800 competitors. The Games gives students the chance to shine in 22 different sports, celebrating physical activity, fair play and athletic success.

The AIMS Games have blossomed since their 2004 inauguration. Starting out as a small, local sporting festival, AIMS 2019 is going international! Interested families in China, Korea and Japan with children excelling in swimming, badminton, golf or table tennis are invited to send their children to Tauranga to participate in this Olympics-style event. AIMS International Director Laura Pomfrett says that the AIMS Games Experience Programme offers a unique opportunity for international students to come and LIVE, LEARN, TRAIN, COMPETE and DISCOVER in New Zealand.

With that in mind, Education Tauranga is shining the light on six international students from Tauranga Intermediate School who took part in this year’s AIMS Games. These six South Korean girls all agree that taking part in AIMS has been an enriching part of their New Zealand experience. This one-of-a-kind sporting event was a highlight for the girls, contributing to their confidence, enhancing English language skills and leading to lifelong friendships.

Seoyeon (Leah) Wee | Hip-Hop, Gold Medal

A cheerleader and dancer back in Korea, it was only natural that Seoyeon would join Tauranga Intermediate’s hip-hop club. She enjoyed the club but missed competing, so she tried out for the school’s AIMS hip-hop team.

Of 109 students only 10 made the team, and Seoyeon was one of them.

“It was a whole new experience for me, I haven’t been to a hip-hop competition before. And I’m the only international student on the team, which made me feel special and unique.”

To Seoyeon, the friendships, coming home with a gold medal and enjoying the AIMS disco to bring the Games to a close were all memories that will stay with her.

Jungeun Song | Swimming, 3 Gold Medals 

Don’t be surprised if you see Jungeun swimming at the Olympics in the not too distant future. After starting the sport at the age of eight, Jungeun has gone on to win more than a few gold medals in citywide competitions in Seoul.

The Song family’s decision to spend a couple years in Tauranga didn’t spell the end for Jungeun’s swimming; training at Greerton Pools and attending nationwide swim competitions has let her keep up with her sport and improve her English skills.

At AIMS, Jungeun rubbed shoulders with the cream of the crop of intermediate swimmers across New Zealand, coming away with three gold medals. She loved getting to chat with old and new friends around the pool while waiting for her heats, and also counts her experience with the waterpolo team among her favourite part of the Games.

“AIMS is about winning, but it’s more than just that. In Korea, you have to be first place, but in New Zealand it’s also about having fun, getting involved and trying new things.”

Dana Kim | Football

Dana Kim wanted to be part of Tauranga Intermediate’s AIMS hip-hop team but didn’t make the cut. Resilient as ever, she dusted herself off and tried her hand at a completely new sport: football.  

Having never played football before coming to New Zealand, Dana was one of only 14 students to make the team. Getting to represent her school at AIMS was a dream come true, and learning a new sport has been an incredible experience.

“In Korea we didn’t have the opportunity for girls to play football. At first my mum was worried, but now she knows that I love football a lot and she lets me play. And I’m not afraid of the ball coming towards me anymore!”

Dana’s defense position meant that she had to communicate clearly and quickly with her teammates, and because of this her English flourished – on and off the field. Now a keen footballer, Dana plans to continue playing when she moves to Auckland next year.

Judy Shin | Golf, Silver Medal 

Judy Shin’s mother, an avid golfer, encouraged her daughter to pick up the sport.

“At first I didn’t really enjoy it because I wasn’t good at it, but Mum would get me to play a round and keep practicing.”

After three years of working at her golf, Judy has improved her skills and come to enjoy the sport. Not the most common sport among intermediate students, Judy made Tauranga Intermediate’s golf team of only five students, taking home the silver medal for the team event as well as putting in a great effort in the individual competition.

“If I knew how fun AIMS was I would have done it last year as well! You get to compete against people from different schools across the country and make lots of new friends.”

Jessica Shin | Indoor bowls

Jessica’s friend wanted to be part of AIMS but was scared to go it alone, so she dragged Jessica along to the indoor bowls try outs and the pair both made the team. 

As Jessica, her friend and the rest of the AIMS team practiced regularly, the group grew close while they learnt new skills.

“Bowls is easy to learn, but needs a lot of practice to get it right.”

Being on the bowling green is a quiet, calm space, which offers a different experience to a lot of other sports. Despite being unsure if she'll stick with the sport in the future, Jessica rates the AIMS experience as one of the best parts of her time in Tauranga.

Jimin Lee | Hockey 

Jimin went to the hockey try outs expecting to tie on some skates and head onto the ice. Instead she discovered that, in New Zealand, hockey is played on the field and before she knew it she was an integral part of Tauranga Intermediate’s six-a-side co-ed field hockey crew. Encouraged by her coach, Jimin took on the daunting position of goalie.

When asked about taking part in AIMS, Jimin has three favourite memories.

“First is going to Oropi Hot Pools with the hockey team after the Games. Second was the shoot out. As goalie, I was so nervous, and even though we didn't win, I was proud of my effort. And third was getting to know the team. We are like a big family now.”

AIMS Goes International

AIMS evolved from a local to national competition before welcoming students from Australia and the South Pacific. Next year, AIMS is widening the circle further becoming a truly international event.

“Opening up the Games to Australia and Pacific nations has been wonderful, bringing an international flavour to the event which is embraced and celebrated both by Kiwi and international students.” AIMS Games Tournament Director Vicki Semple explains.

AIMS is a competitive event in a safe environment. While healthy competition and aiming for gold are at the heart of the Games, having fun, making new friends and creating intercultural connections are equally important.

“AIMS is all about having fun on and off the field. Sport is a great way of creating intercultural connections in the global world in which we live.”

Thoughts from Our Korean Athletes

The girls all agree that living in Tauranga is a completely different experience to life in South Korea. A common theme that comes up is the abundance of greenery, large school fields and a focus on sports and outdoors. They also all agree that sport has helped develop their English skills exponentially. When asked what their English was like before arriving, the girls all giggle.

“Worse than a primary school student,” laughs Seoyeon to nods from the other girls.

And yet all the girls sound like they could have grown up here, speaking, laughing and competing with the best of them.

INTERESTED IN The AIMS games experience programme?

This 17 day programme, taking place September 2019, has been designed specifically for international competitors and will include a New Zealand school experience complete with training, coaching and nutritional advice, the AIMS competition and the opportunity to travel around New Zealand, visiting many of the North Island's best spots.

LIVE WITH US … Experience Homestay

LEARN WITH US … Experience School Life

TRAIN WITH US … Experience Sporting Success

COMPETE WITH US … Experience competition in the prestigious Anchor AIMS Games

DISCOVER WITH US … Experience iconic sights and cultural attractions

Contact the International Director or Tournament Director for more information and to register interest for 2019. 




Laura Pomfrett

Anchor AIMS International Director

Tel +0064 21 119 1225






Vicki Semple

Anchor AIMS Games Tournament Director

Tel +0064 27 576 0066