St Kilda Boys Taking Challenges in New Zealand

Footy season is over, but Western Bulldogs are still enjoying the celebration, especially fans and us Almanackers.

In December, the St Kilda boys are taking challenges and enjoying the adventure in New Zealand.

I wish I could travel with them and cover the high performance camp from my favourite land where I lived for four years, but please forgive me writing the story with information found on the club’s digital media.

After arriving at Auckland on the first day of your summer (my winter), the boys got in cars and headed to Tauranga / Mt Maunganui.

The new recruit from the premiership kennel, Koby Stevens, covered the story for the club media. Scenery shown in the video is familiar to me and made me feel homesick for New Zealand.

I stayed in Tauranga for two months in 2004 doing picking and packing kiwi fruit. Thanks all my friends at Bell Lodge for having fun at the time!

Over in Mt Maunganui, my boys started with normal gym and on field ball work sessions. They then walked around the small Mt Maunganui, which was the beginning of the real Kiwi experience. It takes only two hours to do and the boys enjoyed it. Photos of the walking were uploaded on the club’s Facebook page.

These pictures bring back the good memories of the time and I had and the sort of the trip I did 12 years ago.

Walking around Mt Maunganui is highly recommended.

Training programs had not been discussed in advance and the boys only knew what they were going to do just before the sessions started. I think this will give them skills to deal with unexpected situations on field. Such methods were used a few years ago when young players gained leadership skills in Canberra.

After watching a video message from Nick Riewoldt, who was unable to attend the NZ experience because his wife Catherine is expected to give a birth to their second child, canoeing Whanganui River was next on the program. The boys seemed to have fun and supporters thought so too, but I saw that boats hit the rocks or flipped over with some boys thrown into the river. However, this was to gain skills on how to help each other on the field. And they would know how to bounce back too.

Then farm jobs were given to boys. Counting sheep was good to gain skills in seeing things from different angles. Carrying big loads of wood was another big challenge for boys. Team works would be improved and getting on the task after slipping on the ground gained knowledge of how to handle wet conditions on the footy fields.

Tom Hickey’s negotiating with the farmer, John, was good. It is good to gain leadership skills as well as improve in discussion in a group. John is down to earth and a real Kiwi bloke. He handed tasks at the farm that I mentioned above to the young ruckman.

After the hardwork of the farm, a traditional Maori hangi was served. The boys enjoyed the traditional Maori culture.

They had been told to bring their sleeping bags. Now it was time to use them.  A big tent was built to stay for a night. Team work improved and stayed strong. It was another good experience.

Non-stop 12 hours of training awaited the boys following day. Eight-kilometre bike ride on the hill and Tongariro crossing were part of the training session and their adventure. Jimmy Webster reported the trekking was fun and David Armitage reviewed the mountain activities in the video clip. They were fulfilled after the tough sessions and a St Kilda flag was put in the Mt Ruapehu.

While riding a bike, some boys held arms to go up the hill together. It was a great team work and strong friendships were formed. Boys legs were tired, I reckon.

Watching the video clips reminded me of my great British friends with whom I shared pleasant times in Tauranga and who invited me to the mountain for skiing while they were working in the snow resort. Thanks my friends!!

I have not done Tongariro crossing yet, unfortunately. It is on my bucket list of what to do in New Zealand. Also exploring that part of the South Island and visiting Napier need to be done.

Performing haka brought boys great New Zealand experiences. The Maori dance is famous, especially on the rugby field as All Blacks always perform the dance before their matches. The purpose of the haka is to scare off opponents.

I strongly suggest that St Kilda should perform haka before matches on the footy field. Oops!! Grant Thomas might be worried that Saints would be relocated to New Zealand!  But it should be alright as Saints have already adopted Kiwi culture!

Learning new culture means being flexible and adopting new things, I believe. And learning haka together means developing teamwork.

The high performance training moves us to the second flag.  Go Saints!!

About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Neil Anderson says

    Good write-up in the Sunday papers about the Saints in NZ. Nice link with the Doggies starting with the story about the recruiting of Koby Stevens. The other article today was about predicting which teams outside the 8 this year will make it next year. The Saints were tipped to definitely make the 8 after finishing 2016 strongly.
    The young Saints coming through remind me of Bulldog pups who combined with a few veterans to win the flag. As Yvette said in the Almanac, ” I’ll have what the Dogs had in 2016.”

  2. G’day Neil,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I tired to read the Koby Steven article, but the restriction for the newspaper website distracted me from reading, sadly. But I am happy that the article is a positive one.

    As for the latter one, I was able to read the article written by Rohan Connolly. It’s a good one and I’m very happy that my Saints are the contenders to play the final series next year. Our midfielders are good at handballs and kicks. Stevens add our skills, I reckon.

    We are following the smimilar path to your Bulldogs one and I agree with Yvette about what we do.



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