21 Feb 2019

56th Halberg Awards: Celebrating NZ sporting elite

From Checkpoint, 6:22 pm on 21 February 2019

The annual gathering of New Zealand's sporting elite takes place tonight when the 56th Halberg Awards are hosted at Spark Arena in downtown Auckland.

After a very successful 2018 including a Commonwealth Games, a Winter Olympics and several World Championships, there is plenty of competition for the main prizes.

Leon Birnie, who coached the under-17 football team that achieved much success at the Women's World Cup last year, said six months ago he wouldn't have thought of being at the awards tonight. He is a finalist for the Buddle Findlay Coach of the Year award.

"It's a special night for these girls," he said.  "I'm sure they're going to be in awe of some of the people that are here. It'll be a memory that we'll all have for the rest of our lives."

Goalkeeper Anna Leat, who just finished school a few months ago, said it was an honour to be at the awards. 

She is a finalist for the Sky Sport Emerging Talent and New Zealand's Favourite Sport Moment awards.

Ms Leat said the high from the win in Uruguay still hadn't gone away. 

With the Silver Ferns heading into the World Cup this year, "I'll be kept pretty busy," she said.

"Hopefully I'll be able to go to that World Cup, but I know the team itself has got really high hopes and is looking forward to making a bit of history for themselves. 

"After that, I'm going to university in the States ... that'll be the next step for me."

Stay tuned to RNZ online for the latest on the winners at the 56th Halberg Awards.