Every Saturday morning at sporting grounds around the country keen volunteer coaches impart knowledge and wisdom to the next generation of athletes.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone with more experience than Jack Newson, an 80 year-old who has been part of Christchurch’s Hornby Panthers League Club for most of his life.
Newson was aged 10 when he first signed up to play, and last week celebrated 70 years with Hornby.
“In them days it was different. Now there are age groups which is a lot fairer. We played in weights depending on what weight you made, what team you went in.”
Fish scales hung from trees were used to weigh team members.
“They had a hook on and we’d swing on the hook and they’d write down your weight and that was it.
“After you’d go home and eat what you like,” said Jack.
Currently coaching the Hornby under 11s, Jack used to be the coaching development officer for Canterbury.
He crossed the ditch at one stage to get tips from some the games’ great coaching minds like Wayne Bennett and John Monie.
Four years ago Jack was named New Zealand Rugby League’s Volunteer of the Year, and said being with the club for seven decades was special.
“I’ll never ever get sick of being with this team and I love all of you,” he said.
Hornby Club President Brent Tomlinson said Jack is a committed member and embodies what being a Panther is all about.
“He still does the maintenance at the club. He does welding for me, pipe work and things like that,” said Tomlinson.
The octogenarian still gets out on the field for the Panthers Masters team, clocking up over 500 games in his career.
Jack said he has no plans to hang up the boots.