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Sport Clubs Are Surviving, Women And Girls’ Inclusion Still Work In Progress

The National Sport Club Survey (NSCS) is an annual snapshot of the management and operation of sport clubs. 2021 is the fourth year for the project, which is undertaken in collaboration between the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association (NZASA) and the Sport Performance Institute New Zealand based at Auckland University of Technology (AUT SPRINZ). The NSCS was conceived as a complement to the myriad of available sport sector data by focusing on sport clubs as organisational entities and the hub of many communities across the country.

The 2021 NSCS was open from 19 August to 3 September. Around 1,200 sport clubs engaged with the survey, across 80 sports and all 16 regions of New Zealand. Several important metrics are being tracked year-on-year relating to club membership, governance and finances. In 2021, a comprehensive set of survey items related to women and girls in sport clubs were included. Initial insights from the 2021 survey are now available.

Just 5.1% of sport clubs report losing money in 2021, which is fewer than 2020 (11%) and similar to what was reported in 2019 and 2018. The average membership of a sport club in New Zealand has also rebounded in 2021. Clubs report an average of 200 members, which is where that metric was in 2018, A decrease had been observed in 2019 (190) and 2020 (175).

Association Chairman, Gordon Noble-Campbell is encouraged by the results. “Sport clubs are essential to the well-being of many New Zealanders. At a time when many families and communities are experiencing COVID-related challenges, clubs are continuing to play a key role in connecting communities, even when opportunities to actively participate have been limited for many”.

The percentage of those under age 30 on a sport club board or committee was just 8%, which has been consistent for the past three years. In both 2019 and 2020, the percentage of female board and committee members in New Zealand’s sport clubs was steady at 44%. In 2021, that has risen to 49% which is a indication of greater gender parity in the leadership of sport clubs. However, just 27% of clubs report that their board or committee is chaired by a female.

Women comprise less than one third of coaches (21%), administrators (30%), managers (28%) and officials (23%) in New Zealand’s sport clubs. Dr Mel Johnston, NSCS co-lead from AUT SPRINZ, would like to see more female coaches and managers in clubs, but is heartened by near overall gender parity in club governance. Johnston says, “we know that when women are making decisions, other women benefit”.

Respondents were asked if their club does anything to specifically engage female participants and 41% reported that they did. When asked to expand, those making that effort reported that dedicated female club committees, purposefully welcoming women to the club, female-only online platforms, childcare and female mentors were effective. The survey also focused on the extent to which sport clubs are female friendly. Respondents strongly agreed that coaches and equipment were equally available for women, however clubs could make improvements such as improving lighting in outdoor areas and ensuring there are suitable changing facilities for women.

Further 2021 NSCS insights by region and sport will be disseminated over coming weeks.

For further comment please contact Gordon Noble-Campbell on 021 612 451.

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