Two South African cricket legends are set to join Canterbury sporting heroes as ambassadors for the largest ever sporting event to be held in Christchurch.
Cricketers Barry Richards and Mike Procter, along with Christchurch bowls maestro Gary Lawson, were announced as the latest ambassadors for the Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018.
They join the existing line up which includes Sir Graham Henry (rugby), Sir Bob Charles (golf), Brendon Pongia (basketball), Rod Latham (cricket), Selwyn Maister (hockey), Julie Seymour (netball), Alan Stroud (football), Jo Edwards (lawn bowls), Barry Gardiner (squash), Todd Blackadder (rugby) and Cheryl Kemp (softball).
Peter McDermott, Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018 event director, said the organisation was fortunate to have a distinguished group of Golden Oldies sports advocates join its ambassador team.
“Our initial group of ambassadors was largely Canterbury based, recognising the importance of engaging the local region first and foremost,” said Mr McDermott. “We are now focused on attracting up to 70 percent of the forecast 10,000 participants from overseas and our new ambassadors, along with some of the very high profile Kiwis, will provide strong voices and faces to help us do so.”
In a bonus for golfers they could be teeing off alongside Barry Richards and Mike Proctor who have confirmed they will participate in the Golden Oldies World Festival of Golf as well as providing sideline support for the cricket festival. “Other than enjoying a week of cricket festivities I am excited at the prospect of playing golf on what I understand are four magnificent Christchurch golf courses and being back in New Zealand whose people are among the most friendly and welcoming it has been my pleasure to meet in all my travels,” said Richards.
With around 300 days until the event kicks off registrations for most sports are tracking well with rugby already at 60 percent of capacity and two sports – netball and cricket – at the 50 percent mark. “Those sports with a well-‐known golden oldies tradition are attracting strong entry numbers from here and overseas. Our new sports – lawn bowls, basketball, golf and squash – will receive a fillip with the support of our ambassadors who are all committed to helping us spread the message and drive entries.”
Other upcoming initiatives and milestones for the 10 sport, four week event in April 2018 include the launch next month of the Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018 volunteer recruitment programme. “Volunteers sit at the very heart of delivering a great experience for participants and becoming a volunteer provides a way in which the wider Canterbury community can be involved,” said Mr McDermott. It is anticipated some 1,000 volunteers will be required to help deliver the month long event.
The Hon. Nicky Wagner, Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, said the event is a golden opportunity to showcase Christchurch to the 7,000 overseas participants and 2,000 Kiwis from outside Canterbury who are expected to attend this month-‐long celebration of fun, friendship and fraternity.
The Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018 will mark the first time all 10 sports will come together in one global festival. It is expected to inject a projected $33million of direct economic benefit into the Canterbury region.
Beneficiaries of the Christchurch Casino Golden Oldies Sports Celebration 2018 are Cure Kids and the Leverage and Legacy Committee. Support for the event is provided by New Zealand Major Events (MBIE), the Christchurch City Council, the Rata Foundation, Tourism New Zealand and Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism.