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Articles 12th December 2023

Best Sporting League 2023 – New Zealand

Xtreme Drivers League is the New Zealand national sports organisation for the high-performance sport of long drive, whereby players compete to see which of them can hit a golf ball the farthest distance. Founded under the IGANZ company banner, the league has gone from strength-to-strength since its inception. Company Founder Olna Ford’s journey can be traced back to 2016, when she began hosting celebrity golf tournaments in order to aid struggling clubs. We have the pleasure of speaking with “The Entrepreneur Queen of Long Drive” Olna Ford, who provides more insight into the league and the business, with both areas serving to drive high performance sport on a worldwide stage.


IGANZ aims to be a world-leading sports organisation, expanding the underrated sport of long drive to conquer international markets, in the process creating a new spectator sport that can be enjoyed by people around the world, through its world-class Xtreme Drivers League (XDL). Built on integrity and fair play, the company deals with a host of clients ranging from golfers and keen drivers to sponsors, likewise providing a vast selection of services, with drive training, event management, event organisation, and player management all being in amongst the offerings provided by Olna and her team of passionate experts.


With a strong philosophy regarding client service, IGANZ strives to constantly exceed the needs of clientele across every aspect of the business, maintaining its pre-established high-standards and the positive energy that stems from the high-performance environment in which the athletes and staff thrive. Much like the drivers on the XDL grid, IGANZ has a mindset that places emphasis on winning, and this ultimately drives Olna and the team forward in their collective mission to nurture success that will span continents.


As XDL’s HQ is based in New Zealand, a country incredibly passionate about sport, the enthusiasm of the company’s staff is intrinsic, a very part of their culture and heritage. New Zealand is also famous for its lush country and quality exports, but the relatively remote location of the island means that there is often a lack of motivated investors or businesses willing to take on an investment opportunity such as the XDL, meaning that the team have to fight even harder to get noticed. The unbridled passion for sport and the zeal of New-Zealanders is sure to result in this goal being carried out to the final step, securing a worldwide audience for the product.


None of this would be possible without the hard-working teams of both IGANZ and XDL, with Olna treasuring everybody who works for the company and the league as a “high-performing athlete”, to this end, achieving excellence in everything they set out to do, bolstered by an unparalleled work ethic. These same qualities and skills are sought out when new team members are recruited, with a love for the job and motivation being the two key elements most frequently found in the company’s highest performing staff.


There are three particularly noteworthy areas that reinforce the scope of IGANZ and the XDL, cementing its offerings within the sport. The most famous of these is the New Zealand Long Blacks, initially spearheaded by Sam Jones, and otherwise known as “The Originals”. The Long Blacks were formed following the inaugural IGANZ National Long Drive Championship, which took place in 2017, and had the pleasure of having their logo launched on national sports television, much to the delight of the team and its fans.


This team is a collection of the fastest and longest hitters the country and the sport have to offer, and they were announced to be taking on the Australian team in late 2017 at the first Trans-Tasman Clash, which took place at Stonecutters Ridge Golf course. The following year, the NZ Long Blacks created history on their home turf, winning the Trans-Tasman Clash at The Kinloch Club, claiming the Darren Wise Stingray trophy. After the competition faced a few years of delays due to bush fires and the global pandemic, New Zealand’s Long Blacks returned with a vengeance, and as a result, are the current back-to-back champions of the competition.


It was December 2022 that saw the coveted competition return in full swing, taking place in Port Douglas at the Mirage Country Club. The atmosphere at the event was buzzing, and the New Zealand Long Blacks more than delivered, securing a third-consecutive win against the Australian Long Ballers, garnering the former yet another nomination for a Halberg trophy celebrating the team as best-in-class. With a careful blend of skill and showmanship, the Long Blacks again made history in the sport that year and cemented themselves as the country’s premier team and an integral part of IGANZ and the XDL.


The second of these key areas is the IGANZ Women brand, which is proudly diversifying the sport and helping to bring new eyes to the product, as well as increasing participation for women and girls everywhere through the role model behaviour of those athletes who compete and champion the cause. Two of the key women serving to celebrate and pioneer women’s long drive is Captain of Aussie Long Ballers, Emily Ashton and Captain of the New Zealand Long Black women’s team, Phillis Meti. In the same vein, the IGANZ Kids brand allows for children passionate about the sport to hone their craft early, hopefully affording them the necessary skills to one day compete in the men’s or women’s tournaments.


Since operations on the XDL commenced, the desire for global expansion has only grown stronger, and Olna has received recognition from sports authorities across the 8 countries that have played host to events, with each celebrating her commitment and investment to the sport. In 2020, long drive received formal recognition from the New Zealand Sports Minister, before XDL was proudly named as the first national sports organisation in the world for long drive at an amateur level, and the professional league was set up that too bares the XDL name.


When two international competitors in one such tournament hit balls down the grid at record-breaking speeds and exceptionally long distances, attention was turned to these “big hitters” and long drive was catapulted back into New Zealand’s mainstream. Now, the Xtreme Drivers League is 36 events down and has been played host to by 8 countries, with the upcoming 2024 season set to take things to the next level.


Over the next few years, the success of the league only continued to grow, with a player receiving a Queen’s Honour for being a top athlete in 2022 and a Halberg nomination earlier in 2023 for Team of the Year. XDL’s 2024 season is set to be the most exciting yet, thanks to the implementation of a new technology system that will hopefully take long drive participation and awareness to that all important next level. With all this to boot, Olna explains, “one could say that XDL is seeking to be the next big thing in the sport globally.”


As well as being a pioneer of the sport, Olna is in possession of the intellectual property around the Xtreme Drivers League and embodies the passion for its expansion across the board, with these initiatives set to launch concurrently with the 2024 season. This plan will see XDL branding proudly displayed on everything to do with the sport, ranging from training zones and entertainment lounges to balls and drivers that grace the field in a competitive environment. Moreover, XDL’s DRIVE trailers aim to literally take the sport on the road, simultaneously boosting participation in the sport and heightening awareness of the brand through the use of these mobile and multi-use trailers.


Furthermore, IGANZ consistently aims to do good in the community, with this ethos reinforced by a list of strategies focusing on giving back and simultaneously growing the sport. Following on from the effects of Covid-19 pandemic a few short years ago, Olna and the team have been determined to break through the struggles that lockdowns brought to the industry, and hype for the 2024 season is off the charts, with fans and players across the world counting down the days to the host of events that are being held across New Zealand and beyond.


This worldwide initiative is key for expanding the business and developing the sport more widely, with the league being a key part of the long drive international federation, which too has the like-minded goal of growing XDL and the wider sport through worldwide markets. Another way that the company is hoping to achieve this growth is through XDL TV, an on-demand streaming service that will showcase all of the league’s quality happenings once it launches live to the public next February. With this system in-toe, Olna explains, “Xtreme Drivers League is set to entertain the masses and take the world’s best drivers to the tee”, promising an unmatched spectacle guaranteed to thrill.


Golf clubs are a vital part of this experience for players and fans alike, and with qualifiers open for the national events that will comprise the XDL Tour Championships 2024 season, golf clubs that participate in events will be listed on the XDL website and acknowledged for their necessary and appreciated support in advancing the brand and the sport of long drive more broadly. Since the company is working with a host of international associations for the purposes of drawing more eyes to the product and promoting golf, working with stellar clubs is a key element to securing this growth strategy.


XDL is also looking forward to the implementation of a global leaderboard and player contracts for the official 2024 season, which represents the unwavering commitment of the league to pave the way for the future of big drivers. Moreover, as a team of proud future-thinking experts in their respective field, the XDL crew are excited to announce their virtual training courses and competitions which are set to launch in January 2024, with these again designed to have the effect of expanding viewership figures, garnering sponsorships, and increasing participation on a global scale.


Ultimately, the Xtreme Drivers League is a game-changer in the sports sector, one that possesses a keen drive to be an in-house brand leader and is taking steps to achieve this by holding firm its position at the forefront of cutting-edge endeavours to continue to revolutionise the sport. With Olna Ford once again at the helm, the team are looking forward to welcoming competitors and fans alike back to the grid in 2024, before continuing to expand across all avenues of the IGANZ business and further develop the league well into the future.


For business enquiries, contact Olna Ford from Xtreme Drivers League on their website –