Tuesday, April 23, 2024

NZDF Invictus Games team named

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has named its 22-strong team to compete at the Invictus Games in Düsseldorf, Germany in September next year.

Established by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, the event uses the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate understanding and respect for wounded, injured or ill current and former servicemen and servicewomen. The word ‘invictus’ means ‘unconquered’.

NZDF 2023 Invictus Games co-captain Bob Pearce.

Reaching the sixth Invictus Games has been a long road for the New Zealand team, most of whom were selected in 2019 for the 2020 Games which were cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In mid-2021, the NZDF Adaptive Sport Committee made the decision not to participate in the 2022 Games held in The Hague and to instead concentrate efforts on Düsseldorf.

New Zealand competitors who had been selected to participate in the 2020 event were given preferential selection for 2023, as long as there had been no substantive change in their health status.

NZDF 2023 Invictus Games co-captain Major Buffy Little.

Team co-captain, Major Buffy Little – a Nursing Officer in the New Zealand Army – said taking part in the Düsseldorf event was about continuing a journey that started in 2019.

“The team was unable to achieve what we set out to do, due to Covid-19. I feel I still have unfinished business with my personal journey too, and being selected for the 2023 Games gives me a great opportunity to complete this chapter.

“It is a massive honour and privilege to be selected to co-captain, alongside Bob, and to represent our teammates, our country and for me to represent and honour the friends and colleagues I have lost over the years while serving with the NZDF,” said Major Little. 

Her fellow co-captain Bob, Pearce – a former Intelligence Operator with both the British Army and New Zealand Army – said the team was unique as most of them have spent close to four years together.

“Every one of us has served our country with the best intentions and have been injured in the line of duty. The bonds we have within the team are unbreakable and also exist outside the team, extending to the whole Invictus whānau and family.

“Being around my teammates, sharing in their journeys and hearing how the Invictus Games is assisting them in their recovery has also been a part of my recovery. I feel privileged to have been offered this opportunity,” said Mr Pearce.

NZDF 2023 Invictus Games team member Sonny Tavake enjoying a laugh with his teammates.

The team will take part in a series of training camps prior to heading to Düsseldorf for the games, which will be held from 9-16 September.

Under the motto ‘A Home For Respect’ the city of Düsseldorf, together with the German Armed Forces, will welcome 500 competitors from more than 20 nations to compete in 10 disciplines. They’ll be cheered on by around 1,000 family members and friends.

Follow the New Zealanders’ efforts at www.facebook.com/NZInvictusTeam

The team of serving and former NZDF members, including veterans, is as follows: Flight Sergeant Stacey Adam, Leading Physical Training Instructor Jack Church, Mr Michael Cotton, Mr Stevin Creeggan, Warrant Officer Class Two Jared Davidson, Able Communications Warfare Specialist Paulette Doctor, Warrant Officer Leigh Gurney, Major Soren Hall, Staff Sergeant Melissa Hansen, Corporal Tira Kaa, Mr Stephen Limbrick, Major Buffy Little (co-captain), Lance Corporal Caroline Mitchell, Lieutenant Colonel Adam Modd, Chief Petty Officer Quintin Monk, Mr George Nepata, Mr Robert Pearce (co-captain), Sergeant Daphne Pringle, Warrant Officer Class One Jason Rapana, Mr David Sanderson, Mr Sonny Tavake, Staff Sergeant Lindsay Thomas, Flight Sergeant Andrea McNabb (non-travelling reserve).

The New Zealand team is sponsored by Fulton Hogan and Dynasty Sport.

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