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Campaign Aims To Keep More Young People In Sport

Sport Hawke’s Bay is backing a nationwide campaign to keep more children playing sport.

Sport Hawke’s Bay chief executive Mark Aspden said the Balance is Better campaign led by Sport New Zealand with support of five sports (rugby, netball, hockey, football and cricket) has fun and participation as a focus, rather than a winning at all costs approach.

Mr Aspden said the six-week campaign is aimed at changing the attitudes and behaviours of those delivering or influencing grassroots sport, whether its parents, coaches or administrators.

“This is a critical success factor in addressing the current problems in youth sport and keeping young people playing sport,” he says.

Sport NZ has launched the website, which provides information and resources for those delivering grassroots sport.

Children are being encouraged to play multiple sports rather than specialising early, and an emphasis on fun and development over winning at all costs are the key messages delivered as part of the campaign.

Research findings that have led to the initiative include ACC statistics which show a massive 60% surge since 2008 in sports-related injuries to kids aged 10 to 14 – double the increase of any other age group.

Secondary School Sport Census data shows that although school rolls have increased over the last three years, participation has dropped in inter-school sport.

New Zealand research confirms international study findings: participating in more hours of sport per week than age in years; playing one sport for more than 8 months of the year; and/or exceeding a 2:1 weekly ratio of organised sport to recreational free-play hours, increases the odds of reporting a ‘gradual onset injury’.

Mr Aspden said on a local level, six regional sport organisations in Hawke’s Bay – Hawke’s Bay Rugby, Hawke’s Bay Netball, Hawke’s Bay Cricket, Central Football, Hawke’s Bay Hockey and Basketball Hawke’s Bay are actively involved in the campaign.

Hawke’s Bay Netball Operations Manager Tina Arlidge said the organisation has implemented a player development programme for year 7 and 8 players, replacing the traditional Year 7 and 8 representative structure.

Netball has also made changes to its national age group competition structure which will be implemented in mid – 2020 and has also introduced a national youth board and will have a youth representative on their Netball New Zealand Board.

The six-week public awareness campaign being delivered by Sport New Zealand and the five sports involves sporting identities such as former All Black Jeff Wilson and former Silver Fern Temepara Bailey saying why youth sport needs to change. They are living proof that taking a balanced approach to youth sport works.

Mr Aspden says Sport Hawke’s Bay has been focussed on initiatives to keep children in sport for several years including its annual Be Part of the Team sideline behaviour campaigns and facilitating workshops and forums to the sports sector on the topic.

Sport Hawke’s Bay will be co-facilitating a Balance is Better Regional Forum, aimed at sports leaders from the community alongside Sport New Zealand at the Napier War Memorial on Thursday May 7.


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