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NZ Master Games at a Crossroad

5 February

NZ Master Games at a Crossroad

The NZ Masters Games are at a crossroad, according to Dunedin Masters Games Chairman John Bezett. Mr Bezett believes that the Masters Games has huge potential for growth that won’t be realised unless there’s an injection of increased government funding. He believes that with the Master Games acting as a catalyst for healthy living, government investment in the Games can be justified on the grounds of the positive health outcomes for New Zealand’s ageing population and the resulting savings in healthcare.

Mr Bezett has been involved with the Masters Games for 16 years and has seen the number of participants grow from an initial 3500 competitors to around 7000. He says that the 7000 tally has been the same for the last 3- 4 games.

“ The Games have reached a plateau. We have a product that is Master Sport that I believe is underdeveloped, yet we have an infrastructure through the Masters Games company and the two franchise holders, Wanganui and Dunedin, that is capable of delivering so much more.”

This year’s NZ Masters Games in Dunedin has an operational budget of one million dollars and is organised by one permanent staff member with 4-5 other staff hired a few months prior to the Games. For this investment, Mr Bezett says it is an extraordinary result to attract 7,000 competitors especially when compared to the recent Australian Masters Games held in Adelaide.

“The South Australian government contributed $1.2million towards the Australian Masters operational budget of $2.7 million. The Adelaide City Council, the South Australia Tourism Commission and a State sport government grant between them contributed more than a million dollars and 13 full time staff worked on the event which attracted 10,000 competitors.”

The Games Chairman says that the NZ Masters Games has immense gratitude for their present sponsors and in particular ACC. He says without ACC’s support the 2008 Masters Games could not be held. He believes more appropriate levels of government funding would work towards not just a strong future for the NZ Master Games but towards a more active society.

“We know as a society that we are becoming less active, but we have an ageing population of baby boomers that’s better educated and more affluent than any previous generation; this provides the N Z Masters Games with a real opportunity.

“As a nation we are often reminded of the cost of growing old and the associated cost of health care. We are told that NZ has an obesity problem and that weight related diabetes is a national health threat. As a counter to this we all know that physical activity is a major antidote to many of these heath problems.

“Because we are a small nation we can change attitudes very quickly and with appropriate funding we could offer incentives and encourage older people to exercise to an acceptable level, and the Masters Games is an ideal vehicle to provide that encouragement. The Masters movement can promote health and fitness through programmes that will encourage older people to become more active even if they don’t compete in our Games; in essence the Masters Games brand becomes the catalyst for healthy living.”

Mr Bezett says the NZ Masters Games Company recognises there will be no growth without increased levels of government funding and will work towards achieving this.

February 1- 10


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