Surf life saving a family focus

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Oreti Surf Life Saving Club members and siblings Sarah and Timothy Ball made waves at the Surf Life Saving New Zealand's Otago/Southland Awards of Excellence.

SOUTHLAND siblings Sarah and Timothy Ball are humble characters.

Even when nominated for Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s Otago/Southland Awards of Excellence, they did not want to toot their own horn.

Almost immediately after the pair moved to Southland about six years ago, it was straight into the Oreti Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Ms Ball said.

Despite her level of commitment to the club, she was shocked to find out she was selected as Instructor of the Year on Sunday.

“I was thinking, nah, surely not me. Then I saw it and was like, oh wait, that is me.”

After being nominated by the club committee earlier this year, she was honoured to win such a title, she said.

“It’s very cool, it’s a really lovely feeling seeing people be happy for us.”

One of her main goals was to “engage with a wider audience” and get other people to care about the sport too, she said.

“A lot of the skills you learn through surf transfer into other areas of people’s lives.”

Ms Ball said it was their mother’s desire for them to learn water-based skills from a young age, which got them into surf life saving.

Her brother, Timothy, was also nominated for volunteer of the year, and was acknowledged for the hard work he had put into the club.

He, too, was overwhelmed by the recognition, he said.

“I guess it reminds you that it is a cool achievement and I really just hope to inspire other kids to get involved.”

Mr Ball said while the Oreti Club was small, it was an incredibly dedicated and committed team.

“The goal is to get more memberships. We’re really grateful to our sponsors for helping fund us to upskill staff put in is huge.”

Now the junior surf co-ordinator for the club, he had previously run a swim club in Dunedin for 17 years.

“The transition to open water was really hard, it’s completely different to swimming in a pool.”

Despite the challenge, he managed to get his team to the BP New Zealand IRB Championships a few years ago, he said.

Ms Ball said while her focus was on education and life saving training for senior teams, her brother’s focus was on the sporting side with juniors.

When asked how they found sharing the same passion, having respect for one another was the most important thing, they said.

“We both want the same thing and have the same vision. I really respect and value Sarah’s advice and our overlapping skills mean we can always talk to each other and resolve issues when they come up,” Mr Ball said.

As for their future plans, the growth of the club was a priority, the pair said.

“Surf is a lot like family really just want to see people giving it a go. It’s a really supportive community and we welcome anyone’s ideas [for the club],” he said.

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