Rising sports stars recognised
By Emma Sharplin – emma@thepost.nz
After a year hiatus, the Franklin Junior Sports awards returned for 2017, showcasing some exceptionally talented youth from the area.
Held at the recently opened Bledisloe Park Sports Centre in Pukekohe on Thursday 16 March, the event  recognised the effort and achievement of young people in the local community who dedicate their time to, either pursue their own sporting dreams, or to assist others in theirs.
Due to funding being diverted into greater Auckland initiatives, Counties Manukau Sport were able to bring back these iconic awards, which had been running in the community for over ten years. Ultimately, their goal is to have the community take ownership of these awards in the future.
Franklin Local Board Deputy Chairman, Andy Baker, reiterated how important it was to celebrate young sporting success.
"Playing a sport is an integral part of New Zealand's society. It is important to champion our future champions. However it is just as important to for our rising sporting stars to never forget where you started, and never forget who helped get you there, and this evening allows us to do just that."
This year, a new award was introduced to the categories—Rising Star. This award came about after the judges struggled to pick the overall winners due to the quality of the finalists. Maraekaiti Nepia was picked as the inaugural winner of this award, and he is one to watch for in the near future.
Counties Manukau Sports CEO Russell Preston, was very imoressed with the incredible talent that was presented by those who were nominated. Quoting Muhammad Ali, he said "I was told to look up at the sky to see the stars, but right now, the stars are all here, in this room. I was once told that it takes a community to raise a child, and as a parent, I now understand that. A big thank you to our sponsors, our parents and our volunteers for not only supporting their children to play sports, but giving other people's children the opportunity as well."
The following are the results: U13 Sportsman of the Year: Maraekaiti Nepia; U13 Sportswoman of the Year: Madison Plummer-Foote; Junior Team of the Year: Sunset Beach Hipsters Rowing Crew; Junior Official/Administrator of the Year: Dylan Moxon; Junior Coach of the Year: Maraekaiti Nepia; U16 Sportswoman of the Year: Grace Schroder; U16 Sportsman of the Year: Zachary Dell; U19 Sportsman of the Year: Dylan Moxon; U19 Sportswoman of the Year: Amelia Marlow; Rising Star of the Year: Maraekaiti Nepia; Sporting Excellence of the Year: Amelia Marlow. Photos courtesy of Counties Manukau Sport.

ABOVE: Sporting Excellence of the Year was awarded to Amelia Marlow, whose future career has been suggested as a possible Black Stick. 
ABOVE: Maraekaiti Nepia took out U13 Sportsman of the Year, Junior Coach of the Year and Rising Star of the Year for his involvement touch, rugby, rugby league, ripper rugby, athletics, swimming and football.
Below: Sponsor, Malcolm Wrigley, from Malcolm Wrigley Insurance Services, and Amelia Marlow, U19 Sportswoman of the Year, and winner overall Sporting Excellence of the Year.