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Rugby – Like the rest of New Zealand, rugby is a popular sport for Manawatu. Our men’s representative team are the Turbos, who play in the ITM Cup Championship division. Their home ground is at FMG Stadium within Arena Manawatu. At Super Rugby level, Manawatu is in the Hurricanes catchment zone and home matches are sometimes played here. The Manawatu Cyclones are the province’s rugby representatives in the Women’s Provincial Championship. The Manawatu Rugby Union governs the large number of local teams who play regularly. Ripper Rugby and wheelchair rugby are also popular within the Region.
Rugby League – There is a small but thriving rugby league scene in Manawatu, with a number of clubs in the Region and surrounds. Local club teams represent Palmerston North City, Ohakea, Marton, Dannevirke, Foxton, Levin and Feilding, and are governed by the Manawatu Rugby League (MRL). Teams from nearby Wanganui, Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay areas also compete in Manawatu club competitions.
Basketball – The Breakers Manawatu Jets are the Region’s professional basketball team, who have played in the New Zealand National Basketball League for over 30 years. Both the Jets and teams of the Palmerston North Basketball Association play at Arena 2 (indoor), Arena Manawatu. Within the Basketball Association there are both premier and social grade adult competitions, as well as school competitions for various levels. There are also basketball associations for Levin, Pahiatua and Dannevirke.
Netball – Large numbers in our region turn out every Saturday to play netball, from primary school through to tertiary and above. The province is represented at the ANZ Championship by the Haier Pulse team. Arena 2 is the premier netball venue, often hosting Pulse home games and occasionally the New Zealand Silver Ferns. Netball Manawatu organises competitions for both students and adults, with premier and club/social divisions. Premier 1 and 2 grade netball also play at Arena 2 on Tuesday evenings.
Hockey – The Region’s premier hockey teams are the Central Mavericks (men) and Central Mysticks (women). At a local level, numerous clubs exist and are governed by Hockey Manawatu, with multiple division competitions occurring in both summer and winter. The main venue is at the Twin Turfs, between Fitzherbert Park and Victoria Esplanade, while primary school teams start out with winter hockey on the Manawaroa Park fields and high school teams play frequently at Feilding High School’s hockey turf.
Cricket – Cricket is a particularly popular sport in the Region for all ages. The Central Districts Stags is the Region’s premier cricket team and plays in the national State Championship. At a local level, the Manawatu Cricket Association manages multiple clubs with regular cricket competitions, Twilight Cricket and Twenty20 competitions. Fitzherbert Park is the premiere cricket ground in Palmerston North City and is the home ground of Central Districts and Manawatu Cricket Association, while Manawaroa-Ongley Park is also another important cricket venue.
Soccer/Football – Local association soccer team YoungHeart Manawatu is one of the teams competing in the ASB Youth League, a national competition. The team plays at Memorial Park. Numerous clubs exist in the Region, and soccer is also popular at schools and at Massey University. The Manawatu branch of Central Football governs the local teams in all ages, grades and divisions. The annual Ethkick football tournament, which helps promote football through diversity and friendship, is a big drawcard, with forty teams participating each year, making it the biggest ethnic football tournament New Zealand has seen.
Canoe Polo – Canoe Polo is a major sport in the Manawatu, with the New Zealand Canoe Polo Championships being held in Palmerston North City for the first time in April 2014. As the most prestigious competition in Canoe Polo, this event was a chance for competitors to be selected to represent New Zealand in the 2014 World Championship in France. Feilding High School plays a major role in the Secondary Schools League, with some students having gone on to compete at a national level at the Oceania Canoe Polo Championships. Both the Makino Aquatic Centre in Feilding, and the Hokowhitu Lagoon in Palmerston North City are major training grounds for this action packed sport.