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New Zealand Amateur Sport Association 2020 National Sport Club Survey

Tough Road Ahead For Sport Clubs: COVID-19 Financial Pain & Membership Shrinking

Insights from the 2020 National Sport Club Survey (NSCS) are now available. Over 1,100 sport clubs responded across80 sports and all 17 regions of New Zealand.The 2020 NSCS is the third annualand is undertaken in collaboration between the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association (NZASA) and the Sport Performance InstituteNew Zealand based at AucklandUniversity of Technology (AUT SPRINZ).

NSCS data indicates thatmany more sport clubs are losing money in 2020 (11%) than were in 2019 (5%).

A higher proportion of clubs connected to New Zealand’s most traditional sports like rugby, cricket and netball report being “hit hard” by the impact of COVID-19 (15%) compared to other team sports (6%), primarily individual sports (4%) and racquet sports (3%). Further, less clubs from traditional sports indicate they will “shortly be back to normal” (31%) compared to other team sports (46%), primarily individual sports (49%) and racquet sports (56%). Fewer Auckland sport clubs anticipate being shortly back to normal (38%) than other regions of the country(up to 65%).

A minority of sport clubsreceived COVID-19 financial relief. More than two-thirds of sport clubsreport receiving no financial support from centralor local government. Those who did receive fundsreported an average of $6,100. More than three-quarters of sport clubsreported no supportfrom a regional or national sportingorganization. Most of those that did, reportedreceiving $1,000.

Sport club representatives were asked to rate how helpful sport organisations at regional and national levels were, as well as local and centralgovernment, in relationto COVID-19. Overall,a mostly neutral perspective of “helpfulness” was reported, but it was noteworthy that local councils were perceived as significantly less helpful.

Based on longitudinal NSCS data, it’s emerging that sport club membership is shrinking around the country. The average membership of a sportclub in New Zealand hasdecreased from over200 in 2018, to 190 in 2019 and now 175 in 2020. This corresponds with an increasefrom 22% of clubs reporting their membership shrinking in 2018 to 30% in 2020. Diggingdeeper, it has emerged againin 2020 that smaller clubs are shrinkingfurther and most clubs that are growingwere already large.

NZASA Chairman, Gordon Noble-Campbell is aware of the significant operational challenges facing sport clubs in 2020. “In the wake of the pandemic, the normal environment for community sport has been severely disrupted, with the financial impact of reducedincome from all sources likelyto increase pressure on club volunteers to make ends meet”, he says.

Dr Michael Naylor the project co-lead from AUT SPRINZ notes that COVID-19 has “significantly impacted” New Zealand’s sport clubs and that more comprehensive support from both sport organisations and the public sectoris required. Furthermore, he states that “those sportswith mostly smaller clubsmust urgently exploreinnovative operational models for ongoingviability”.

Other 2020 NSCS insights related to governance, management, volunteers, funding, sponsorship, resilience, innovation and more will be circulated through regional workshops, social media and infographics in upcoming weeks.


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