Eleven year old Maraekaiti Nepia has a great future ahead of him and an impressive list of achievements behind him. The Glenbrook Primary School student from Waiuku has been part of several Counties Manukau Rugby representative teams for league and touch rugby.
He started playing at the age of seven, and was hooked. “He just loves it,” says his Mum, Alissa. “It’s fun,” Maraekaiti says.
It’s his love of the game that has seen him participate in many teams, including Counties Manukau U11 Touch team, Counties Country U11 team, who won their tournament; Waiuku Rugby U11 who represented Waiuku in the New Zealand Junior Rugby tournament in Taupo and were shield winners; Pukekohe Pythons rugby league, Counties Maori Rugby League U11 Black representatives; and Glenbrook touch representatives for year five and six, among the many other teams.
His family, especially Mum and Dad, Alissa and Kowhai are his biggest supporters. His parents are both involved in rugby teams, and siblings participate in touch rugby, swimming and athletics.
“We’re proud of him, we’re proud of all our kids,” Alissa says. “We didn’t want to be parents who just support on the sideline,” says Alissa. She decided to take up rugby herself, really loving it. “You don’t know until you try,” she says.
Being part of so many teams means there are a lot of practices Maraekaiti has to attend. “We’re the schedule keepers,” Alissa says. “But if he’s feeling tired, we let him take a break.”
Alissa and Kowhai say that the rugby community is very supportive of their son, as well as all the other players on each team. “Other parents support him and encourage him. They love the style he’s brought to the game,” says Alissa.
Maraekaiti is keen on helping other young players get involved with sports. He recently was asked by his principal to help the year three and four students for touch rugby at school, which he enjoyed. “It was good,” he says.
As for what’s ahead, this young sportsman has his eyes on the All Blacks, or anything rugby. “I like learning new things, new skills.” The next thing on his plate is trialing for the U12 Counties Manukau touch team at the end of the month.