Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Training camp for World Archery Oceania Championships

It’s July 2018, and it’s hot.
A group of enthusiastic young archers from across the Pacific assemble in Noumea, Nouvelle-Calédonie for a training camp prior to the World Archery Oceania Championships and Youth Olympic Qualifying Tournament (CQT). One is a 15-year-old newbie from Aotearoa New Zealand, Finn Matheson, another a young ‘going places’ 20-year-old from Tonga, Arne Jensen. Jensen already has a reputation to envy. He debuted on the archery world stage in 2010 and in 2016 became Olympian #33 at the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games. Matheson, on the other hand, was ‘wearing the fern’ at a major event for the very first time.
‘I was in awe of Arne because he’d already done pretty much all the things I aspired to doing, Matheson says, ‘I wondered what this “young colossus” would be like’ he laughs. At 186cm Jensen was a giant beside Matheson who stood 165cm in his boots and had yet to have his growth spurt.
Introduced to each other by coach Rob Turner, there was an instant bond. They chatted, shot arrows, chatted some more, and shared food in that uniquely Pacific way. It was great to watch. After they’d shot some serious Matchplay, Jensen was asked how it went. He hooted with laughter and joked ‘Finn handed me my arse’.
Matheson remembers how Jensen looked out for him like a caring big brother in this world where everything was new to him. He shot 635 at 60m in the U18 competition while Jensen shot 615 to rank first in the Open Men’s. Matheson was runner up for the Men’s Youth Olympic spot, Jensen won bronze in the Oceania Championship, the tournament ended with a great party, France won the FIFA World Cup, and no-one in Noumea slept for a week!

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Even though COVID locked the Pacific down for the next two years and kept the young men apart, technology kept them linked and the friendship strengthened. Matheson grew 15cm, bulked up, and became a double international representing New Zealand in karate at world championships in Bucharest and Foligno, Italy while competing in World Archery World Cup events in Shanghai and Antalya in 2019 and the Youth Worlds in the same year. Jensen, the more experienced of the two, has shot five World Championships, three World Cups, and at two Pacific Games including in 2023 and all for Tonga.
Now they meet again exactly where the friendship started, at a World Archery Oceania CQT camp, this time in Aotearoa New Zealand. Undeterred by COVID, costs, and distances, these young men are at it again - doing friendship things just as they did in 2018, catching up, sharing stories, and shooting together, Jensen as archer/coach for Tonga and Matheson now New Zealand’s most experienced recurver.
So what’s changed? The bond has deepened and enriched, but some things haven’t changed. Jensen still calls Matheson ‘the kid’ and there’s mutual pleasure and respect in that. Lives have moved on in unique ways. Jensen is Dad to two lovely youngsters and is incredibly proud of his wife and family. They are the absolute centre of his world. Matheson jokes ‘I never left school. A couple of weeks after my final day, the HoD of the PE Department phoned and offered me the archery coach position and I’ve been doing that since 2021. It’s a great job, King’s College is an excellent school and I have 60 plus archers in my cohort.’ Named ‘Archery NZ Coach of the Year’ for 2023, he adds ‘I love coaching. I coach at my club and have private students who I predict will be world-beaters. I just love it’. Jensen is the coach for the Tonga team, and he has ‘plans’ in the coaching space too - but right now it’s all about reconnecting and enjoying each other’s company. Baby photos are shared, and you get the impression that Matheson will always be ‘the kid’ and that Jensen will always be ‘big bro’. Both cut impressive figures on and off the range, and, whatever the future holds, this deeply personal bond is secure.

World Archery Oceania Secretary General Patsy Vercoe is behind the Oceania tournament and is proud of this achievement. ‘It’s great to see all these athletes and officials working so well together regardless of age or nationality. I’m so proud of them all, long may it continue’. ‘This is only possible through hard work and the support of the World Archery team’ she adds ‘and the Olympic Solidarity Fund that supports the participation of the island nations. We’re so grateful for that’.
World Archery Development Officer for Oceania Cushla Matheson has put the camp together and says ‘learning opportunities like these are rare in the region so it’s exciting to get like-minded athletes and coaches together to shoot, to teach, to learn, and to have fun. I’m grateful to the session leaders for their input and the willing sharing of knowledge - and for the food organised by our wonderful caterer. Sharing food is so important in Pacific cultures and it’s just kept rolling out, all day every day, over the duration of the camp. It’s been like magic’ she laughs.
The CQT itself will be opened by Councillor Josephine Bartley, Auckland’s first woman councillor of Pacific heritage. Bartley is Samoan and the ward councillor for Maungakiekie, the district hosting the event. ‘It’s important to us to highlight high achieving Pasifika women and Cllr Jo is both a fantastic role model and a wonderful advocate for our sport’ affirms Cushla, ‘we love her to bits’.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.