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Auckland Sport & Recreation Survey Identifies Much-needed COVID-19 Support

Lockdown uncertainty, loss of membership, human resources, solvency and recovery plans are among key aspects keeping Auckland sport and recreation organisations awake at night as the country faces COVID-19.

Initiated by Aktive, the survey was conducted in late March and received 168 responses, providing valuable statistically valid insights into understand the pandemic’s current and potential impact on the sector. With the majority (94%) of respondents cancelling events or programmes, and around one quarter (23%) indicating cashflow and resources to support operations will last one to four weeks, the survey identified immediate areas of concern.

Dr Sarah Sandley, CE, Aktive says the noted aspects, along with communications and legal guidance, are addressed in a comprehensive plan that is already being implemented.

"Along with our partners, we want to ensure that all clubs, codes and organisations are as equipped as best possible to respond to the impact of COVID-19," says Dr Sandley. "This survey has provided valuable insights and we are focusing capabilities and resources to provide fast and effective deployment of targeted support.

"We are also facilitating online networking opportunities so people in the sector can share ideas and solutions. We know it’s a tough time for many people and this engagement is important for both the sector and personal wellbeing."

Nearly three quarters (72%) of the 168 survey respondents indicated they have access to technology and facilities to work remotely, supporting such engagement. Around two thirds (66%) of the 168 survey respondents were sports clubs, and the same number employ full or part-time staff; of these just over half (53%) have applied for the Government Wage Subsidy Scheme with a further 22% intending to apply.

In response to survey results, Aktive has convened the Auckland Sport & Recreation Taskforce, including Sport New Zealand, Auckland Council and partners CLM Community Sport, Harbour Sport, Sport Auckland and Sport Waitākere.

Aktive has also developed a six-point action plan to support the sector. All free of charge, it comprises legal support via Aktive’s partner Simpson Grierson; surveys to help organisations understand members and their needs at this time; Thinking Differently member engagement and retention forum for organised sport; HR including resources and webinars; weekly What’s on Your Mind chat room facilitating online connections; and accounting services through Aktive’s Shared Services.

Weekly Sector Resilience Meetings led by Aktive and including the latest information from Sport New Zealand, Auckland Council, the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand and others are proving valuable support information and advice for the sector, with more than 190 attending yesterday’s virtual meeting. In addition, tailored webinars, forums and chat rooms are being delivered online with information available

"These discussions offer opportunities to work through the sector’s immediate concerns such as how to retain members, and the maintenance of grounds and playing turfs ," says Dr Sandley. "The maintenance issue is creating angst for affected codes, and in response we are coordinating a session with Auckland Council and all field code Regional Sport Organisations to discuss turf opportunities, chaired by Sport Auckland Chief Executive Mike Elliott.

"COVID-19 is having widespread implications across every part of our daily interactions, including recreational and sport-related activities. With our partners, we are committed to supporting the sector however possible - we’re in this for the long term and here to help."

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