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Exciting new plans for sports under Labour

2000 web siteIncreased numbers of sporting scholarships will be available under a Labour government, Labour sports spokesperson Trevor Mallard said today.

He said Labour has budgeted up to $10 million to be available for this over the next three years.

Releasing Labour's sports policy today, Trevor Mallard said the policy focused on increasing participation, promoting excellence, capitalising on tourism and trade opportunities, and providing an overarching vision for sport and recreation .

"The scholarships are a particularly exciting prospect for hundreds of young sports people who may be eligible. They will be targeted towards our pre-elite athletes - the young men and women who have the potential to become the country's leading sports achievers.

"They will cover tertiary fees and allowances and assist athletes establish their careers, by helping them to undertake the training and competition required to reach the top of their chosen sport.

"The aim of them would be to provide support for athletes to ensure that New Zealand betters our international sporting achievement record. Some sporting codes have the funding to look after and encourage their aspiring stars themselves. But other athletes who represent our country just as successfully and as proudly often don't reach their potential because there is not strong support available. I would particularly like to help those sports."

Trevor Mallard said Labour would also earmark funding for increasing participation at all levels. The funding would be used to research into barriers to participating and developing pilot programmes designed to alleviate the identified barriers.

"Membership of sports clubs in New Zealand totals more than 1.7 million with thousands of others taking part on a casual basis. It's a huge part of our lifestyle and the positive benefits are numerous but there is still room for improvement.

"What Labour wants to do is look at the three key transition points where people drop out of active sports involvement - that is moving from primary to secondary school, leaving school, and points of relationship or employment change. If we can overcome the barriers at these points more New Zealanders will take part in sport.

"We also want to look at ways of improving the low level of participation among certain groups like older New Zealanders, low income families, women, and disabled New Zealanders.

"As Labour's education spokesperson, I also have a special interest in a plan to encourage both teachers and sports clubs to be involved in coaching development schemes to ensure that school children have access to better coaching. School sport is suffering from the ageing of the teaching workforce and workload pressures."

Trevor Mallard said the benefits in being a sporting nation were numerous including improved health, employment, counteracting criminal and other anti-social behaviour, and giving the country an international profile.

"But above all it give us pride. Sports, along with our arts and culture, can unite us either through taking part ourselves or through the pride we share when our compatriots perform well. Labour's sports policy will build on this culture," Trevor Mallard said.

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