SHARE

Last week, Sport New Zealand, along with the national bodies for cricket, netball, rugby, football and hockey signed a joint statement of intent to make major changes to the way kids play sport – aiming to make it more inclusive and more focused on participation.

The proposed measures include changing the competitive mindset in adults, reviewing national and regional representative tournaments and looking at how talent is identified with teenagers.

Oamaru Mail reporter Gus Patterson put some questions about the changes to leaders of sport in Waitaki.

North Otago Netball president Sonya Macdonald

Q Do you agree with the goals of the agreement?

These changes have been coming for many years and we got on board two years ago. We want to see as many as possible play our sport and continue to play, whatever the level. Just looking at netball sessions alone, some of our players towards the end of the season were hardly getting a day off through the week from school practices, to representative trainings to playing Saturday netball, then tournament netball on Sundays. The bodies and minds can only take so much. Once they get to the end of high school or sometimes before, they quit, as they have had enough. We really need to get the balance right here in this space.

Q Have you had any contact with your national body about these goals and have you had discussions about this locally?

Studies have been completed over the past few years showing the results of pushing our kids to hard early in sports, is showing kids are quitting the sports they once loved very early on, especially between the ages of 14 and 18. From this, New Zealand Netball started the process of changing how they do things. We, as a centre, got on board with this, as we see this as really beneficial for our game and have already seen the rewards for many of our younger players. Now it’s time to keep moving forward and pull in all our age groups and help all our players continue to play and love our game.

Q What impact do you think it will have on local netball?

We have already seen the representative section disappear from our year 7 and 8 groups, and a new development programme put in place.

This new programme has seen our centre go from having two representative teams attend tournaments to our centre sending four teams to a development tournament this year. We have a lot more attending these tournaments and getting the opportunity to up-skill and learn more about the game while still having fun.

North Otago Cricket chairman Peter Cameron

Q Do you agree with the goals of the agreement?

We agree, but have the concern that the smaller districts with limited numbers may struggle to find competition for the children who are looking to challenge themselves.

Q Have you had any contact with your national body about these goals and have you had discussions about this locally?

In the past two years, with the introduction of “Age and Stage” junior cricket programmes, cricket has modified its game to make it more enjoyable for the youth. For example, reducing the pitch length, shorter boundaries, and reducing batting and bowling loads to prevent injuries. The changes have been driven by New Zealand Cricket.

Q What impact do you think it will have on local cricket?

Last year we had increased numbers in the junior space and we hope to continue to build on what was started at the beginning of the season.

North Otago Rugby Union chief executive Colin Jackson

Q Do you agree with the goals of the agreement?

North Otago Rugby has always set out to make trainings and games an enjoyable experience for all participants. However, the biggest challenge still remains – that all the pressure to succeed is from off the pitch, not on it. That is by no means an easy fix.

Q Have you had any contact with your national body about these goals and have you had discussions about this locally?

Yes it has been widely discussed with NZ Rugby and other provincial rugby unions. We have talked about working more closely with other sporting codes and Sport Waitaki.

Q What impact do you think it will have on local rugby?

We have already changed by withdrawing some junior representative rugby and implementing fun/development rugby days. This has given more children the opportunity to have good coaching and a fun experience.

Meadowbank United chairman Chris Lynch

Q Do you agree with the goals of the agreement?

Yes, these goals seem reasonable. The problem is, for it to work you would need all coaches to have certain coaching qualification to give the kids/players the best experience and direction. It would also be good for managers to have a good understanding of the games, too. It doesn’t work when it is parents coaching and managing to fill the gap, when they have not been through courses to see what is good and bad, as well as ways and techniques to give kids the best opportunity to learn and enjoy themselves.

Q Have you had any contact with your national body about these goals and have you had discussions about this locally?

No, I have not had any contact from any national body. I have been thinking these things myself over the past couple of years and discussed it with members of the community and our club.

Q What impact do you think it will have on local football?

For this to happen in Oamaru we need to have the facilities to make it work properly. At the moment we struggle for facilities and we are a growing club. The town keeps growing and the facilities are not. Maybe this is a big reason why numbers fall – training and games always get called off when it rains slightly. If we had the facilities and with what is the statement of intent, we should see more kids playing sports and playing for longer. Who doesn’t want to have fun?