BY JOHN LANGFORD
THE Blair Vining Sports Foundation has been established in an effort to attract more local junior sporting talent to Central Southland College.
Vining was recently diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer, which has spread to the 37-year-old’s liver and lungs.
The terminal illness has prompted a move to get the foundation set up.
The well-respected Central Southland man is the father of 12-year-old Lilly, who attends Limehills School, and Della-May, who has been elected head girl at Central Southland College for 2019.
Della-May is one of the brightest young netball talents in the province, while Lilly has also made her mark in the region with rugby, netball, tennis and touch.
Vining’s idea to start the Blair Vining Sports Foundation came after he witnessed first-hand talented juniors bypass the Winton-based college in favour of other high schools to give themselves a better chance to excel in their chosen sports.
Vining felt with the right support systems in place, high-performing sporting pupils at Central Southland College could achieve the same results, or even better than at other schools.
While rugby is Vining’s major passion, and it would be the main focus of the foundation, groups or individuals from all sporting codes would be encouraged to make applications.
The foundation will fund projects over and above what was currently allocated towards sport inside the college budget.
The Blair Vining Foundation’s official trustees will assess the applications and allocate the grants.
College principal Grant Dick appreciated the huge amount of time and dedication Vining put into the college, in particular with the school’s first 15, which he coached.
“Blair is passionate about seeing his boys play well on the field, as well as help them grow into great young men that contribute positively to society.
“The proposed foundation would certainly encourage and support athletes to further achieve their goals and aspirations.”
Vining’s wife Missy was confident the foundation would have the support of the entire community.
“Basically it is a trust that will continue to deliver Blair’s vision for CSC rugby, and help financially support talented sports individuals to achieve their goals through expert coaching, mentoring, travel and strength and conditioning etc.
“The foundation will also assist CSC coaches with their development, all to help ensure we attract and retain local sporting talent.”
The Central Southland College first 15 made giant strides under his guidance, which included in 2017 making the Southland under-18 final against St Peter’s.
The foundation’s first project will be to raise funds for the first 15 team’s tour to Australia in April, when it will play four games in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
As a player, Vining himself carved out an impressive club rugby career which included playing 280 games for his beloved Midlands Rugby Club. He also had short stints with the Mossburn and Woodlands clubs.
He represented Southland through all the junior age group ranks.
As a hard-nosed and skilful lock, Vining was one of the major factors behind Midlands reaching the Galbraith Shield final in 2009.
To kick off the Blair Vining Foundation’s fund-raising drive, there will be two rugby games played at Midlands in Winton on January 12, followed by the Blair Vining Black Tie Evening at 6pm.
On Vining’s bucket list was a desire to play one more game of rugby.
The main game will be played between his favourite rugby team-mates over the years (Invitational 15), as well as some of his favourite opponents (Barbarians 15).
Vining will also coach his first 15 in the curtain-raiser at 1.15pm.
Blair Vining Invitational 15 squad:
Tere Cummings, Ben McHugh, Dayna Cunningham, Bert Mitchell, Hayden Wilson, Blair Vining/Grant Moore, Tim Boys, Chris Cairns, Jimmy Cowan, Damon Templeton, Vinny Cruickshank, Shane Erskine, Hayden Gentle, Craig Valli, Daniel Pinn, Pete Thomson, Craig Robins, Al Jones, John Officer, Damian Pulley, James Caldwell, Blake Fairburn, Steve Dobson, Dusty Wright, Gregor Laughton, Jared Collie.