40 Years of NZJTC: A Legacy

July 2, 2023

Let us join together to celebrate a momentous milestone as the New Zealand Junior Team Championships (previously known as the North Island Team Champs) proudly enters its 40th year!

For generations, this event has been the pinnacle of excitement for junior players, and it is that time of the year again where we celebrate this remarkable occasion. For 40 years, aspiring juniors from all around the country have come together, proudly representing their associations, embarking on memorable journeys, forging new friendships, and creating lifelong memories along the way.

NZJTC has evolved throughout the years and it has become known as a crucial stepping stone for young talent, providing a platform for both budding beginners and high-performing athletes to shine. It is an exceptional opportunity for newcomers to learn from experienced players, honing their skills while immersing themselves in the vibrant badminton community.

Richard Skarott, a Manawatu representative and one of the pillars of the event, succinctly captures the essence of the long-standing event, acknowledging how everyone “values the contacts and friendships made over the years. It’s fantastic to see players go on to be integral parts of their association teams or to higher honours.”

Over the decades, the venue has also undergone many changes, from a rubber compound on concrete to sprung wooden floors, and expanding the capacity to accommodate the growing demand. With an impressive 24 courts in regular use and a staggering 38 courts for this year, Palmerston North continues to raise the bar for excellence.

Behind this grand event stands an extraordinary team of dedicated volunteers, some of whom have been involved for over 30 years. Among them, Janice Cudby has served in various roles such as Treasurer, Event Director, President, and now Referee.

Janice and her fellow volunteers share a deep passion for nurturing young talents and witnessing their growth in the sport as they progress through the age groups. Despite the challenges faced over the years, from snowstorms to leaking roofs and even the unforeseen impacts of Covid, the spirit of the event perseveres.

Janice remarks, “The show must go on,” and with a wealth of experience and resilience, the team stands ready to overcome any obstacles that may arise.

The legacy of NZJTC extends beyond the players themselves. As Donna Haliday, a Commonwealth Games representative, former NZJTC participant turned coach, beautifully puts it,

“Palmerston North was always the highlight of the year. I loved having the opportunity to play the sport I love for a whole week while at the same time having fun.”

Today, as a coach, Donna finds immense joy in witnessing players develop, gain confidence, and strive for excellence. The cycle continues as these former players embrace coaching roles, passing on their knowledge and passion to the next generation.

Known to everyone as “Palmy,” this event holds a special place in the hearts of all those who have experienced its magic.

“The fact that it has remained as a fundamental part of the National Calendar for 40 years is probably the best testament to the event, affectionately known as Palmy.”

Richard Skarott

Let us honour the rich history of the New Zealand Junior Team Championships, where talent thrives, friendships are forged, and unforgettable moments are created. Let’s celebrate this milestone together, playing hard and supporting each other as we experience another exhilarating chapter in the remarkable journey of junior badminton in Palmerston North.

As Halliday advises, “focus on your strengths, learn from your losses, and above all, savour every moment of this extraordinary event.”