Sport: An Extraordinary Platform for Learning

Date: 06 Jun 2024

Darryn Hoare, Director of Sport

For Director of Sport Darryn Hoare, Dilworth’s Sports Programme isn’t just an extracurricular activity but part of the fabric of the school.

In his four years in the role, the programme has expanded and flourished to become an integral element of the educational and boarding experience. With a dual emphasis on participation and high performance, it creates an inclusive environment where every student can find their place.

The philosophy is grounded in his belief that physical activity is inherently beneficial and also provides an extraordinary platform for learning.

Darryn says "Through sport, students learn life skills such as teamwork, resilience, and discipline. These lessons aren’t left on the sports field but are carried back into the classroom and beyond”. Going on to say “Sport is a great place to experience loss, disappointment, elation, disagreement, triumph because it’s an environment that’s controlled and the stakes are not too high, even if they might feel it at the time.”

While sport might not be every student’s ‘cup of tea’ at the outset, Darryn believes that meaningful engagement invariably transforms it into a positive experience. “The aim is for participation in sport and physical exercise to be not just a box-ticking exercise but a fulfilling part of school life, so we provide all the opportunities for it to be fun and enjoyable, for students to try new things, to improve their skills, learn discipline and strive to improve.”

Full support from the Board and Headmaster Dan Reddiex has supported a thriving sporting culture. 

“Because we’re a boarding school, sport is part of the students’ day and an important part of how they engage culturally with Dilworth. You have your class, your arts, your music and sport is one more element to help you identify with the school. For some students, sport is actually the thing that gets them through to Year 13 and beyond.”

Dilworth offers a wide range of sports, high-level coaching, and state-of-the-art facilities designed with participation and performance in mind. Alongside traditional powerhouse sports like rugby, football, and basketball, students can participate in more niche pursuits like wrestling, Olympic lifting, table tennis, squash, volleyball, badminton, and more. The variety means that every student can find a sport that interests him within the camaraderie of a team or personal challenge of an individual sport.

And for those who take their sport seriously, there are clear pathways to excel.

"From a performance perspective, we unashamedly provide our students the opportunities to be good at sport, to be competitive, to perform at a high level," Hoare explains. High-level coaching, dedicated strength and conditioning programmes, and specialised programmes such as the Athlete Performance Class (APC) for Year 9s and 10s and the Dilworth Carded Athlete (DCA) programme are amongst the specialised support available.

While minority sports are growing, rugby and basketball remain flagship codes for the school. More than 40% of Dilworth students participate in rugby, and Dilworth this year maintained its position in the top echelon of schoolboy rugby - the Premier 1A grade. Likewise, basketball is on the rise with outstanding performances in recent years the fruit of hard work and a flourishing culture under the leadership of Director of Basketball Josiah Maama.

The results aren’t limited to high-profile sports. The wrestling team continues to be competitive, recently hosting and medalling at the Auckland Championships. Olympic lifting, a relatively new addition, has also gained traction, with boys training seriously and achieving success under expert coaching. Athletics had its best season ever, with a number of students competing at regional and national events.

It’s clear the strategy is having an impact on results, but the real measure of success, Darryn says, is when students find the sport that gets them out of bed in the morning, have some success and learn from their involvement. And things are looking bright – just a few weeks into the winter season, with students showing great engagement and enthusiasm, whatever their discipline.

So what’s next for sport at Dilworth?
“We’ve seen significant change and expansion over the last four years, so the focus going forward really is on consolidation and on refining and improving the existing programmes to ensure they continue to meet the needs of the students, Darryn says. “Engaging with the wider school community, including parents and old boys, is another priority, leveraging their expertise and support as the school refines its offering.”

He says continual improvement is the ultimate aim.

“I’m really proud of what we’re building here at Dilworth. We have great people, great programmes, great facilities. There are remarkable opportunities here for our students. We have a lot of the building blocks in place now, but we want to keep refining and making our offer better. It’s a great challenge to have.”