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Scholarships expanded to include sports officials

22 June 2005

Scholarships expanded to include sports officials

New Zealand’s top referees, umpires and judges are set to benefit from an expansion of the Prime Minister’s Scholarship programme, Sport and Recreation Minister Trevor Mallard announced today.

Under the Prime Minister’s Scholarships, which until now has been reserved for athletes and coaches, elite and potentially elite officials will now be eligible to apply for scholarships of up to $10,000 a year.

"This type of recognition for our top sports officials is well overdue. We have some very talented and highly rated international sports officials in New Zealand. Top rugby referee Paddy O'Brien and cricket umpire Billy Bowden are two of our more recognised officials," Trevor Mallard said.

"We also had 30 New Zealanders officiating in some capacity at the Athens Olympics last year. Six of them officiated Olympic finals – a peak achievement in any sports officials career."

The government has committed $1 million over the next four years for the expansion of the programme. The scholarships could be used to cover the costs of gaining or maintaining international officiating accreditation, which may include officiating at international events and other professional development initiatives, such as mentoring programmes.

"It's important that our top officials keep up with the play at the international level because their skills help New Zealand athletes prepare for top level competition.

“Refereeing at any level of sport can be a demanding and often thankless task – but it is essential to sport. We want to increase the number and quality of officials at all levels - raising awareness of the achievements of our top officials will hopefully encourage others to get involved."

Scholarships will be open to officials who are accredited at the international level and developing international officials. The scholarships are administered by SPARC (Sport and Recreation New Zealand) and will be available from August 2005. Applications should be made through national sport organisations.

ENDS

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