08 September, 2023
“It now feels real,” NZ Invictus team manager, Royal New Zealand Navy’s Commander Julie Fitzell said.
“You can tell our people are excited and some are also relieved to be here, after the disappointment of not going to The Hague in 2020 due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“I think that momentum and energy will only build over the next few days, as the Games approach.”
Commander Fitzell said the team had the longest distance to travel out of all the nations competing, with a 26-hour journey behind them.
The focus for our people in the lead-up to the Games will be to re-energise and focus on what lies ahead.
Co-Captain, Staff Sergeant Bob Pearce, said it had taken four-and-a-half years for many of the team to get to this point.
“Now we have finally arrived and I’m excited for the team.”
Being the first team to arrive in Dusseldorf for the Games, the New Zealanders were met by a large welcoming party, including members of the Bundeswehr (the German military) and a large party of Invictus Games volunteers, along with Buddy, the Games’ special mascot, a German Hovawart dog.
“It was a great welcome, we were met at the plane door and guided through customs. Everyone was super friendly and even collected our bags for us. Three cheers for the Bundeswehr,” Staff Sergeant Pearce said.
Düsseldorf has opened it heart to Invictus Games competitors. The city had an overwhelming number of volunteers registering to assist competitors and it had to turn people away.
Coaching team member Henare Peta said the next steps would be organising training for each of the competitors and looking at the venue.
“This will help us support our people to get to the right place at the right time, so our team doesn’t have to worry about where to go and they can concentrate and focus.”
The sixth Invictus Games will run until 16 September, providing a ‘’Home for Respect” for around 550 competitors from 21 nations, competing in 10 sporting disciplines.
There will be a free livestream of all sports events at the links below, along with Sky TV broadcasting the games on a pop-up channel:
Where to watch the Games:
From Saturday 9 September there will be a free livestream of all sports events at the links below. Sky Sport will also broadcast the games on their pop-up 1 channel.
➡️ Invictus website: www.invictusgames23.de
➡️ Invictus Youtube: www.youtube.com/@invictusgamesdusseldorf2023
➡️ Live on Sky Sports pop-up 1 channel
The New Zealand Team is sponsored by Fulton Hogan, Dynasty Sport, The Ranfurly Veterans’ Trust, Sudima Hotels, and is supported by Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand.