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Culture of sport flourishing under new principal

“We’re quietly going about building a culture of sport here for everyone, regardless of level of achievement.” – Principal, Danny O’Connor

As ACG Strathallan principal Danny O’Connor heads into his second year leading the independent school in Karaka, his quiet impact on the school’s sport programme is starting to be felt.

Mr O’Connor, a former national rugby representative who has played and coached sports at national and international levels, said his vision is to use the power of sport to bring out the best in every student.

“Sport is integral to New Zealand’s culture and way of life and it is a crucial part of the co-curricular programme at ACG Strathallan. It improves wellbeing, it helps students’ bodies and minds to develop, it develops resiliency and it grows a sense of belonging and a positive school spirit,” he explained.

This year, alongside the sports department, he outlined a new strategy to provide a sustainable sports programme to give students more opportunities to participate in recreational and competitive sport.

With clear outcomes to meet by 2019, the school has taken action, appointing professional coaches, providing more opportunities to compete, recognising staff involvement in coaching, and aligning sports with both the school’s PE programme and existing House competition.

It’s less about grand gestures than getting the right people involved.

Professional running coach and Drury local James Kuegler came on board in February. He has initiated the school’s first running club, coaches the cross-country team and conducts fitness training for other games players.

“We have a lot of students at our school who are great runners, but don’t currently train and we’re keen to develop a culture of running at the school,” Mr O’Connor said.

Likewise, first XV coach Frank Ulberg, appointed at the beginning of the season, is concentrating on laying the right foundations for the future.

“I aspire for our school to be recognised as a competitive school within Counties rugby,” he says. “This year’s stellar growth means we’re in a good place and the contribution of our new players next season will be priceless.”

For the school, participation, practising, being in a team – these are the aims.

“If a team has respect, care, honesty, hard work, accountability, and humility, they are already winners, irrespective of results,” Frank said.

Mr O’Connor agrees.

“We’re quietly going about building a culture of sport here for everyone, regardless of level of achievement.”

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