Greg Oke

Greg Oke

For a day job, Greg Oke is a chiropractor. That’s probably quite a handy career to have given his other pursuits in the world of competitive kayaking and canoe polo. It can be a rough a tumble sport, but as Greg points out it’s a sport that can cater for all body shapes and sizes. As the head coach of Feilding High School’s Canoe Polo, he has worked tirelessly to make the sport accessible for all.

“I really enjoy watching kids improve their lives in general through sport, whether that’s just getting fit or kids that just don’t in somewhere, and it’s about finding a space for them and letting them evolve.”

Greg has a genuine desire and willingness to pass on his knowledge and skills on to the kids that he coaches and turning them into better players than he is himself. He’s extremely selfless with his time, committing to three evenings per week to the eleven Feilding High School canoe polo teams. He done everything imaginable for the teams that he coaches, including health and safety, equipment repairer, fundraising, committee member, even storing boats at his home.

He wants to give people the best of what he has got and this dedication has paid off, with seven national titles for Feilding High School in nearly a decade, as well as being awarded team of the year twice in the last four years for the whole of the school. Considering the sporting pedigree that Feilding High School has, it demonstrates how much canoe polo is valued by the school community and it’s a testament to efforts of Greg and the kids that he coaches.

And there are valuable life lessons in canoe polo for Greg’s teams. He’s a competitive person, he likes to win and he likes to see his teams win too, but never by breaking the rules or the spirit and ethics of the game.

“Sport’s a conduit to how you live your life, so if you play by the rules, fairly and you still win, that’s great. Don’t be ashamed of winning, winning is great. We play pretty strongly but we like to have a laugh too.”

One of the many challenges that junior sports coaches face all over New Zealand, is getting the buy in from parents and not just using sport teams as babysitting services. Greg doesn’t have that issue with his teams. He’s built a sense of community, involving parents, grandparents and friends of players, getting them to contribute time and energy to the teams and therefore also enjoying the success that they achieve.

And Greg’s efforts are appreciated by the parents as well. They recognise the impact that he has had on their children’s lives, as Amy Walters goes on to say.

“Our kids look to him for direction and in turn work to model what they see as traits of someone they respect and admire. Having Greg in their worlds, cheering them on fills our kids. He is an absolute asset to our school, our club and our community.”We couldn’t agree more.