The Golden Oldies movement had its origins in New Zealand when a rugby administrator named Tom Johnson sought a way to keep people involved in his game, at a time when life was starting to get busier and busier.
Johnson, a New Zealand Rugby Football Union councillor, had seen the interest in past representative players getting together and having fun in semi-social games around New Zealand. In 1977 he organised some games as 20-minute curtain-raisers before matches played by the touring British and Irish Lions rugby side around New Zealand.
The interest in those games made him realise that there was potential for such a concept, none more than in Auckland where the local administrators didn’t want to host a game. So he took it to a suburban ground where 5000 people turned up to watch a game between the New Zealand Barbarians and a team of former British international players.
It was all about having fun, while also latching onto the desire of people over the age of 35, with no upper end age restriction, tying in their sport with international travel. The notion of ‘Fun, Friendship and Fraternity’ was central to the whole concept and the first rugby Festival was staged in Auckland in 1979. And it has stayed that way ever since.
Netball joins the club 5 years later.
Along the way the Golden Oldies concept drew the attention of other sporting codes - including netball! This Hawaii 2020 event will be a wonderful Golden Oldies World Netball Festival and a continuation of a proud tradition.