A chance camping trip in the Highlands of Scotland on my OE sparked something inside me to dream big, and drove a passion that saw me establish Global Games, and over the next ten years give over 30,000 young people from around the world experiences to last a lifetime.
Growing up as a small boy in Wainomatata and later years in the Hutt Valley in Wellington, my sporting experiences were never limited. I had the chance to try a number of different codes creating many fond memories of friendship and fun. I was never a star player though and you could count my major plays for the season on one hand in any given year. So, when rep teams were named for higher honours I was never expecting to hear my name called. I always looked up to the better players and how lucky they were to have the chance to travel and meet other teams in tournaments and events with other kids from around the country.
Like most things in life, good things happen when you least expect them too. In my final year of club rugby at Hutt Old Boys as a 12-year-old, my team was lucky enough to take part in a day tour to the Wairarapa. I will never forget the excitement in the team hearing, we would get to all travel on a bus together to play a club in this far away land ( 1.5 hours over the hill ). For the month leading up to the trip we were buzzing with all the possibilities of the unknown. Once the day came, we could have popped with excitement, nervousness, joking and laughing like we were super stars, and in our minds, we were. Arriving in the hosting club was surreal and chasing the sheep from the field so we could play was just too good. We got smashed in the game and in memory I believe the score was 80-0, but I can’t recall and it was not important. We had the times of our lives and its one of my fondest memories of my childhood.
Sitting around that campfire in Glencoe deep in the Scottish Highlands in the same spot where my ancestors had once walked, I contemplated what my life might look like once I returned home, I looked back on all of my travels and the amazing experiences and people I had met. I also thought about my childhood and what had brought me to this point, my only sports tour never far from my mind. My greatest times and experiences where I felt truly empowered, those times had been through traveling on my O.E and as a young kiwi boy playing grassroots sport. It was at this moment I decided I wanted to do something that linked all of the things I loved together and I dreamed up Global Games, an organisation that would offer young people opportunities through sport and travel that are normally reserved for representative players or their sporting heroes. The next couple of months were dominated with ideas around setting up the organisation with my little head spinning as I struggled to contain my own excitement.
The last country to visit on my overseas experience was France, where we spent a number of weeks based in the South which provided the perfect backdrop to put my dream on paper and start the journey of Global Games, an organisation. I was in my twenties at the time and in all honesty had no clue what I was getting myself in to. I contacted the NZRU and along with King Country Rugby and ran my idea past them, ensuring there was no objection to my plan of setting up about running a large scale junior rugby festival in Taupō
"I WAS SHATTERED AND COULD REMEMBER PARKING UP AT THE LAKE THE NEXT DAY ALONE THINKING WHAT A DISASTER IT ALL WAS AND HOW NO ONE WOULD EVER WANT TO COME AGAIN."
IMAGE HERE of Ty
Once returning home I drove all around the country, visiting the clubs that I had invited. I remember there was huge uncertainty around sending teams of children, some as young as 9 with their teams across the country to an event that had never been held before, with an organisation and man no one had heard of. But once I got in front of team management and families they could see my passion and that I was a half-decent bloke, so went ahead with sending hundreds of kids from across the land to Taupō. The first events kicked off September 2010 and in the background, it was crazy and complete chaos. My poor family whom I had roped in to help were like stunned mullets on that opening morning as kids just started pouring in from every direction for registration which we were of course not ready for. After the event, I was shattered and could remember parking up at the lake the next day alone thinking what a disaster it all was and how no one would ever want to come again. Then later that day the emails and calls started coming in about what an amazing experience it was and how much everyone had had the times of their lives, young and old, meeting new clubs, playing the game they love in an amazing place. 10 years later 95% of those clubs are still coming back.... my family took 8 years to return.
Though starting out was hard and those early times were filled with setbacks, challenges, and failures, giving up never entered my mind. The hardest thing I found was dealing with people who for no reason at all, did not like what we were doing and only had negative things to say, but most of those people never took the time to come to our events or to meet me. Politics in sport is tough and it’s something that I'm still trying to get my head around, but for me, I don't care which club I'm dealing with, where they come from, what their backgrounds are, all I care about is providing world-class experiences for children and sticking up for the little guys like that little boy from the Hutt Valley trying his heart out and just wanting to have fun.