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Cosgrove: Sports Alive exhibition opening

Hon Clayton Cosgrove
Minister for Sport and Recreation

27 August 2008 Speech

Speech by Clayton Cosgrove to officially open Sports Alive exhibition

Venue: Science Alive, 382 Moorhouse Avenue, Christchurch
Time: 6.30pm, 27 August 2008

Murray Giera, Chairman of the Science Alive Trust Board; Neville Petrie, Chief Executive of Science Alive; sponsors and supporters of the Sports Alive project;
staff members; special guests; ladies and gentlemen.

Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here to open the Sports Alive exhibition at Science Alive here in Christchurch. This is my first speaking engagement as Sport and Recreation Minister since flying back in from the Beijing Olympics this morning, and I must say, what a good way to start.

I believe I speak for all New Zealanders when I say that we are fiercely proud of our Olympic team. Our Olympians can hold their heads high having provided the best overall result in 20 years by bringing home three golds, one silver and five bronze medals. There were 26 top-eight placings from 9 different sports. And there were also many new personal bests, with New Zealand’s men’s cycling pursuit team breaking the four minute barrier, and our swimmers setting new, New Zealand records. These athletes are an inspiration to our nation and our place in the world as proud kiwis, and also an inspiration to get out there and get involved in sport and recreation also.

This new venture, Sports Alive, that we are here to launch tonight, is also about inspiration. One of the stated purposes of the Sports Alive exhibition is to rekindle the joy of activity through sport, and through the excitement and challenge of competition. It aims to get kiwi kids and adults more physically active by making it fun and by making people aware of the importance of doing so, for their health. It also makes us aware of the effect of different foods and exercise on our bodies.

This exhibition allows people to have a go at a wide range of sports. There are activities across 10 major sporting codes (rugby, netball, football, cricket, softball, basketball, rowing, athletics, golf and cycling) where you can take on your friends and family to see who has the best accuracy, strength, reaction time and endurance skills. The technology components within the exhibition include radar that can measure the speed and trajectory of your throws, and you can watch your own race in 3D on a big screen as you race for cycling and rowing victory.

Other exhibits show the technological developments that have occurred in sport over the decades, and skeleton and muscle exhibits demonstrate the importance of food and exercise in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

This marriage of sport and science gives you the fun, and the facts. And if having a go at any of these activities triggers children’s or adults’ interest, there is information available on where they can join a local club.

I do not think it is possible to overstate the value of the sport and recreation sector to a nation. That is why it is great to see ventures such as this that encourage people to try out sports and to get informed about the importance of being healthy and active.

As a proud Cantabrian, it is no surprise to me that a new, innovative venture such as Sports Alive has arisen in Canterbury. Our region’s outstanding history in sport and recreation is one of the main reasons why we are all so proud to be from Canterbury.

Yet we all realise that our great sporting traditions are not enough in themselves to ensure that sport and recreation will prevail in the future. We have to be flexible and move with the times. Hence the need for these new kinds of ways to gain peoples’ interest in sport.

Anyone associated with Science Alive will have a good understanding of the power of technology in reaching young people these days. This is something that we have had to realise in the sport and recreation sector too.

For example, one of the methods that the government has adopted to get our healthy eating, active living message to young people is through a "Mission-On" website aimed at five to twelve year olds.

I must admit that it took me some time to come to terms with the idea of using a website to encourage kids to be active, and there have been other people who have been quick to criticise this concept as well. But the fact is that the Internet is an excellent way to reach young people, as it is a media that they are familiar with, are interested in and use frequently.

Young people in particular, often described as "Generation Y", are seen by some commentators as being at the forefront of a 21st century media / technological revolution, and are regular television views and Internet users. That is also why the government has invested in social marketing campaigns such as Push Play as a means of encouraging Kiwis to get fit and healthy.

The Sports Alive exhibition uses technology to convey that same message in an exciting and interactive way. This kind of hands-on approach to learning effectively engages young people's imaginations and makes learning interesting and fun. Technology is one way we can get our young people to take notice.

The fundamental movement activities that this exhibition offers provide the base for a wide range of sports. With basic skills such as catching, throwing and balance, kids are more likely to get involved in, and enjoy, sport.

The benefits of having good basic movement skills goes beyond being able to participate in sport and recreation. It helps children and young people gain confidence, which in turn promotes participation and success in other areas of life. Being physically active on a regular basis can help your performance in the classroom to the boardroom, because you are able to concentrate better and for longer.

Getting involved in a whole lot of different physical activities also teaches you how to set goals and work hard to achieve them, to celebrate your achievements and learn from your disappointments. Group activities create opportunities to develop team work skills, and how to work with different types of people and personalities.

These are all really important skills to learn if you want to be successful in life.
I would like to thank the Science Alive team for thinking outside the square in terms of encouraging kiwis to participate more in sport and recreation while learning something new along the way. At the end of the day, sport must be fun for people to get involved, and this project inspires participation on a whole new level.

I commend the huge community effort that has gone into creating the Sports Alive exhibition, and hope that Cantabrians and visitors alike enjoy what is on offer.


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