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Time to say ‘Thanks’ to Volunteer Coaches

Time to say ‘Thanks’ to Volunteer Coaches

- Blow the whistle on your coach today -

The search is on for New Zealand’s volunteer coach of the year. Today sees the launch of the Wattie’s Baked Beans Volunteer Coach of the Year awards for 2004, a joint initiative between Sport and Recreation New Zealand (SPARC) and Wattie’s.

The vital role that volunteer coaches play in all sporting codes is being acknowledged. Sport is a fundamental part of the Kiwi lifestyle and without the thousands of hours generously given by volunteer coaches the level of participation in amateur sports would not be possible.

All 17 Regional Sports Trusts will be promoting the awards to local sports clubs, schools and teams as they uncover their own Regional Volunteer Coach of the Year. The regional winners will then go forward to be selected for the national winner by a panel of well-known judges from the ranks of sports coaching, playing and nutrition.

The Wattie’s Baked Beans Volunteer Coach of the Year awards are open to all volunteer coaches including club coaches, school coaches and anyone coaching at a non-representative level.

SPARC coaching consultant, Performance Division Mike McHugh, who will chair the judging panel, says the awards truly recognise the dedication of the people who generously give their time to coach sport.

“Volunteer coaches form the heart of community sport. They dedicate themselves to encouraging our young people to excel, to participate and to have goals. In doing so, they significantly contribute to the wellbeing of our communities. I am delighted that Wattie’s is helping us applaud volunteer coaches by supporting these awards.”

SPARC estimates that about 70,000 people act as volunteer coaches throughout New Zealand and a large percentage of them are involved in coaching school teams.1

Last year’s national winner, Kaponga Primary School teacher Rachael Gibbons, truly fits the description ‘Volunteer Coach’.

Rachael coaches multiple school sports teams, including basketball, netball and volleyball at lunchtimes, after school, at weekends and during the school holidays. Of the 80 students at Kaponga Primary School 68 are involved in Saturday sport. Rachael’s dedication to sport has been evident since she found her feet as a new teacher at Kaponga and during her five years at the school she has made sport an extremely important part of the culture.

Rachael sees sport as an important part of life, she says, “There is a lot to learn from participating in sports, it builds team skills, communication, learning how to get on with each other and setting personal goals.

“The challenge for me is co-ordinating all the children, but in the end the reward is seeing them doing well, getting into something and enjoying themselves.”

Heinz Wattie’s General Manager of Marketing, Mike Pretty, says the company is delighted to once again be putting the spotlight on this important group of people who make grassroots sport possible in New Zealand.

“Baked beans are a natural partnership with sport as they’re an excellent source of energy to fuel active people.”

Other facts and figures:2

More than a quarter of all adults are involved in sports and active leisure in a capacity other than as a participant. Volunteers are most likely to be involved as a parent helper (47 percent) or coach/instructor (40 percent). Around 30 percent are involved as a referee or official and 29 percent as an administrator. Involvement as a coach or instructor is highest for 18-24 year olds (16 percent) with men more likely to fulfill this role than women (13 percent vs 9 percent). In fact, almost half of all male volunteers act in the capacity of coach/instructor. Involvement as a parent helper is highest amongst 35-49 year olds with women more likely to fulfill this role than men (15 percent vs 11 percent).

The Wattie’s Baked Beans Volunteer Coach of the Year awards nomination period runs from July 15 to August 26 and is open to anyone currently coaching at a school or club level (but not representative level). Entry forms are available on both the Wattie’s and SPARC websites or from your local Regional Sports Trust. There will be 17 regional volunteer coach winners, two runners up and an overall winner who receives $5,000 to support their coaching development.

Visit or to download an entry form and blow the whistle on your coach today!

As estimated by SPARC, 2004 2 Source: NZ Sport and Physical Activity Surveys 1997-2001

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