Gold medal Paralympian helps young South Aucklanders find their Field of Dreams
15 November 2021
“To experience this is unreal,” said Tupou Neiufi, following her gold medal win in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. “I hope my story inspires others.”
Tupou has now found the opportunity to do just that as she becomes the inaugural Ambassador for the John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation, a role which will see her connect with thousands of young people across the South Auckland region.
The two-time Paralympian acknowledges that there have been ups and downs in her journey. After a hit-and-run accident gave her a left side brain injury when she was 2 years old, doctors weren’t confident she would walk again. And growing up with a disability wasn’t easy. “When I was younger, I was really ashamed of my disability and shy about it. Now I’m proud of who I am.”
Discovering swimming was transformative for Tupou – and the Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation was there from the beginning through a Community Swim programme at Sutton Park Primary School. While taking up swimming was initially intended to develop her weaker left side, Tupou immediately felt a sense of freedom in the water.
The John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams award winning Community Swim programme has been delivering free water skills for life lessons for the past 14 years. The Foundation encourages the young people of Auckland’s area of greatest need to pursue a more active lifestyle through sport and physical recreation. Its goal is a fitter, healthier and more caring community. Established in 2008, the charity now engages over 60,000 young people per year across eight different programmes.
Tupou captured the imagination of thousands of young people – and especially young South Aucklanders – when she seized New Zealand’s first gold medal in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. As a proud South Aucklander, it’s fitting that she now chooses to give her support to the John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation, which is based in Manukau.
“I’m so excited and grateful to get involved with Find your Field of Dreams Foundation. For me it is all about helping young people see what’s possible for them, just like Find your Field of Dreams Foundation did for me when I was younger. I am so happy and excited to help shine a light on our area in South Auckland and show kids that they have that potential, that they can be proud and have goals whether big or small. Sport is a pathway to self-esteem.”
As the Foundation’s inaugural Ambassador, Tupou will share her inspiring message through various events. She’s even going to share her swimming expertise at the celebration of the 1.5 millionth free Community Swim lesson.in early 2022.
Sir John Walker (Founding Chairman) says “l and my fellow board members of Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation are absolutely delighted to welcome Tupou Neiufi as our inaugural Ambassador. Tupou’s journey to reach the pinnacle of sporting success, winning Gold at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, is an inspiration to not only aspiring athletes, but to everyone. To have had Tupou in our Field of Dreams Community Swim programme when she was at primary school is very gratifying, to think we have been part of her journey. Tupou, with her vast life experiences overcoming her disability with such resilience and courage, will inspire our young people to ‘find their field of dreams’.”
About the John Walker Find your Field of Dreams Foundation
- The Foundation is a charitable trust founded by Sir John Walker in 2008.
- The Foundation raises funds to run our 8 programmes, which engage over 60,000 young people each year.
- The Foundation engages at-risk young people to embrace new activities, challenges them to get off the couch or street, and start down the active and healthy journey that sport offers.
- Programmes are delivered across Auckland’s areas of great need through a partnership between the council, NGOs, government agencies and business.
- Find out more at https://www.fieldofdreams.org.nz/about-us/
For more details please contact:
Rick Pickard, General Manager
John Walker Find Your Field of Dreams Foundation
Mobile +64 (0) 276 889947