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National seeks boost for kids' sport

John Key MP

National Party Leader

30 June 2008

National seeks boost to kids' participation in sport

National Leader John Key today outlined National's policy approach to boosting the participation of young Kiwis in sport.

In a speech in Auckland he said National will take a far more practical approach to funding sports by focusing government sporting dollars where they will make a difference - at the front line in schools and sports clubs.

"Participation by kids in sport is declining, but there are many and obvious benefits for both kids themselves, and wider society, in increasing that participation."

National will:

* Give schools additional resources over time to ensure more students can take part in extra-curricula organised sport. * Ensure more of the government's sport spending gets through to the front line.

"We will do this by carefully re-prioritising government funds currently dedicated to a host of bureaucratic anti-obesity campaigns," says Mr Key. "Ministers in a National-led government will be given clear priorities - more sports coaches and equipment, and fewer advisors and reports.

"One striking thing under Labour is the number of overlapping programmes and initiatives. It's hard to understand why we need at least eight different government programmes encouraging people to eat healthier and exercise more.

"National will look at all these to ensure we get the balance right between funding promotional programmes and telling people to lead healthier lifestyles, and funding actual sports organisations with actual facilities at which sport is actually played.

"Another striking thing under Labour is how little of the budgeted millions actually flows through the bureaucracy and into schools and community organisations.

"For example, almost a third of Sport and Recreation New Zealand's money - $35 million - never makes it outside the Wellington head office. This year, Sparc will spend $5.5 million on its website, and between 2006 and 2010 it has budgeted $11.5 million for the website.

"That $11.5 million would give almost $6,000 worth of sports equipment to every primary school in New Zealand.

"Sport is an important part of growing up in New Zealand. Kids who are out there playing rugby or netball or soccer or softball, or any other sport, aren't just getting fitter and healthier - they're learning about teamwork and co-operation, about playing fair and about winning and losing. Regular involvement in organised sport is habit-forming.

"The kids who play sport through their childhood and teen years are much more likely to be the adults who keep fit in later years. And I think we can make a significant difference to troubled young people if we can get more of them playing sport."


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