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SPARC Supports Sport Officials

22 July 2003
Media Release

SPARC Supports Sport Officials

SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) has today released a national officiating strategy that provides direction for the future development of sports officiating in New Zealand.

Nicholas Hill, CEO of SPARC, says "this is an important strategy for SPARC as New Zealand's sporting infrastructure is based on volunteers. Recent research shows that 27% of all New Zealand adults give their time to volunteer in sport, 30% of these as officials. Every weekend referees, umpires, judges, timekeepers and so on contribute their time, energy and expertise to enable participants at all levels to enjoy positive sporting experiences. Without this army of volunteers sport just wouldn't happen."

"Recently there have been a number of high profile cases in the media involving the abuse of officials. We all need to look at how we can better support our officials and also improve the public's awareness and appreciation of their role in sport" says Hill.

Top New Zealand rugby referee Paddy O'Brien believes that "without officials there is no game, yet we spend a lot of time questioning the decisions and verbally abusing the very people who are trying to help - because it's considered part of the game to do so."

"SPARC is to be congratulated on the initiatives contained with this strategy. Shifting the public's perception of officials, while no easy task, will do a lot to help sport recruit and retain more officials - as will the provision of quality training and development programmes," said O'Brien.

The strategy has been developed in consultation with representatives from national sports organisations and regional sports trusts. It has three key goals; to provide quality officiating in New Zealand sport; to increase the number of officials; and to improve the understanding and appreciation of the role of officials in sport.

Many organisations are already doing great work with officials. SPARC currently provides a series of generic training and development resources for officials which cover topics such as how to become a more effective official, people management, fitness and injury prevention, legal issues and risk management.

Hill believes "the provision of resources is not enough. We need to value our officials more, we need to recognise their contributions and achievements in sport, and promote the positive aspects of officiating as a rewarding and fun experience. SPARC will work in conjunction with national sports organisations and regional sports trusts to implement the key strategies providing a more coordinated approach to the way we support officials across all sports."


For more information contact:

The National Officiating Strategy can be found on the SPARC website at


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