Whether simply enjoying the social aspects of a friendly lunch-time game or representing the school in a more structured competition, for many students, sport forms an integral part of their personal development at ACG Parnell College.
For Head Prefect Arjun Kaila, skills training and squad practices are essential parts of his day. Since first joining our Year 7 cohort in 2016, Arjun has made the most of our vibrant sports programme, participating in a wide range of athletic pursuits and endeavours. And this year, his outstanding attitude and dedication have seen him named captain of the First XI Cricket and Senior Boys Volleyball teams. But there's much more to sport than just the on-field experience for this committed team player.
"The thing I enjoy most about playing sports is the unity it creates, where people across all walks of life can come together to appreciate a shared interest," he confirms. "I was very grateful when I was awarded the 2022 captaincy for both the cricket and volleyball teams. But the title didn't change my feelings about the importance of the entire team and valuing every player."
"For me personally, I feel that a mix of ability and enjoyment is required to get the most out of sport. However, in general, enjoyment is much more important as that is truly the only thing that matters at the end of the day."
The 17-year-old is a firm believer in the benefits an active lifestyle can bring and encourages his peers to get involved in various sporting endeavours regardless of their talents or abilities.
"My advice is just to give it a go, and for novice athletes, I would suggest something like volleyball, which is easy to pick up as a beginner. It doesn't matter if you aren't a professional at the sport; giving it a try will open your world up to so much more in terms of the relationships you make and the opportunities you get. Remember, no one's good at everything."
While a fan of all things sport-based, volleyball has a special place in Arjun's heart. Playing since Year 8, he is proud of the strong connections his team has developed as players. And although organisers have cancelled the 2022 North Island Secondary Schools Volleyball Cup due to the current Omicron outbreak, he is relishing another exciting season of inter-school competition.
"Our cricket season had a promising start too, and our team finished sixth in the Senior Open grade. This year was a great opportunity for us to develop our skills and teamwork, with five of our eleven players still being juniors!"
Adds Sports Coordinator Steph Trowill, "Arjun is an exceptional role model for ACG Parnell College students. His dedication and commitment to his sporting pursuits are second to none and extend beyond simply just playing the sports.
"In recent years, he has taken on a huge leadership role in volleyball, where he umpires other school's matches. His confidence and communication skills are far beyond his years. This was best exemplified when he umpired a rather intense semi-final in the 2021 North Island Secondary Schools Cup and received plaudits from the Volleyball New Zealand event organisers."
Arjun's 'can-do' attitude encompasses his entire school life. So when it comes to juggling his training commitments, his responsibilities as Head Prefect and his schoolwork, the highly-motivated teen reports that it's simply a matter of creating a schedule and sticking to it.
"It is honestly not as challenging as it may seem," he says. "If you plan out your time effectively, there are more than enough hours in a week to incorporate sports, my student leadership duties, and to properly study."
Arjun has also discovered valuable lessons on the sports field that are readily transferable into his everyday activities.
"The most important lesson I have learnt from sport is that resilience and perseverance are the keys to life. Never giving up until the very end is an essential aspect of both sports and life."
And after proudly representing ACG Parnell College at competitions and events for the past several years, the talented all-rounder has many fond moments and memories to draw on in the future.
"My personal highlights include the North Island Secondary School volleyball tournament last year. Unfortunately, I was injured, but it was a great experience to see the boys grow their skills and have a fantastic platform to display themselves. Other events that have been thrilling would be a Teachers vs Students futsal match and the swimming sports, both in 2021.”