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Regional Balance Is Better Forum Hits Mark With Sector

A recent Balance is Better Forum for regional community sport leaders, hosted by Aktive and Sport New Zealand, is helping shift the dial on discussions around youth sports.

More than 30 attendees from 23 different organisations heard about Balance is Better and positive youth sport practices from Alex Chiet, National Sport Development Consultant, Sport New Zealand and Dillon Boucher, former professional basketball player and Balance is Better Champion.

An evidence-based philosophy developed by Sport New Zealand, Balance is Better informs and provides a framework that puts the needs of the participant first. The focus is on growing the capability of the sporting system to maximise participation and better prepare young people in their development phase so they are developing talent at the right pace.

Jennah Wootten, Aktive Chief Executive says the forum helped raise awareness of the philosophy and the changes Aktive and its community delivery partners CLM Community, Harbour Sport, Sport Auckland and Sport Waitākere are supporting the sport sector to lead.

“We are committed to working with the sector so together we can better understand the challenges facing youth sport, identify ways in which these challenges can begin to be addressed and ultimately help lead change to make a positive difference for our tamariki and rangatahi,” says Ms Wootten.

“We support quality experiences for all young people, regardless of ability, needs and motivations. This philosophy focuses on supporting young people to stay involved in sport for life and realise their potential at the right time.”

This sentiment was echoed by Mr Chiet: “A lot of time and energy goes into the 1%. We want to bring whānau and the 99% together because all young people need to have opportunities to be involved in sport for life. Balance is Better is about supporting young people to be in sport for longer and, at the right time, those with the potential can move into high performance.”

Speaking from experience, Mr Boucher shared the lessons he has learnt: “I’ve lived in the 1% space for a while – as an athlete, a coach, then an administrator. I didn’t stop to consider the 99% in the participation space because my life existed in the high-performance space. We don’t celebrate participation as much as we do success.”

Aktive, along with its community delivery partners, is committed to Balance is Better, and is also supporting the sector with Good Sports®, a culture change initiative aiming to create positive sporting experiences for children by educating and supporting the key adult influencers in youth sport – in particular, parents.

“Good Sports is well aligned to the Balance is Better philosophy and is a useful tool to bring this important conversation to local communities and parents,” explains Ms Wootten.

“This forum marked the start of a journey with regional sport organisations in Auckland to work on the individual and collective action to contribute to a regional youth sport approach. Aktive will be picking up the opportunities discussed and working with our community delivery partners to consider next steps in supporting and working with regional organisations.”

Good Sports was initially designed by Aktive as a Sport New Zealand funded Active Communities Project and then further developed over the last three years. The well-established initiative received the Community Impact Award in the 2020 New Zealand Sport & Recreation Awards and, under the umbrella of Balance is Better, it is being incorporated into Sport New Zealand’s national approach to parents.

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