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Sport NZ launches campaign to build support for elite women’s sport

With two women's world cups and a world series on the horizon in Aotearoa, Sport NZ has launched “It’s Time” – a campaign aimed at promoting greater engagement in elite women’s sport.

Research commissioned by Sport NZ shows awareness of female athletes is significantly lower than comparable male athletes, particularly in team sports. Only one in three New Zealanders regularly watch women’s sport and more than half (53%) don’t expect to engage in more in women’s sport over the next 12 months, whether that’s watching on TV, attending matches, using social media or following media coverage.

Sport NZ Chief Executive, Raelene Castle, says there is a huge opportunity to increase the visibility of, and support for, New Zealand’s female athletes, particularly with the Rugby World Cup kicking off in October, the FAST5 Netball World Series in November and the Football World Cup heading to New Zealand next July.

“We need to build on the momentum from the Cricket World Cup earlier this year, and we believe the upcoming world cups here in Aotearoa will be a great platform to promote change in this space, but these events are just the tip of the iceberg.  

“Our Kiwi Ferns head to the Rugby League World Cup in November while the Silver Ferns prepare for their Netball World Cup next year and there are multiple inspiring performances happening that deserve our attention. 

“We’re challenging New Zealanders to get behind it, whether that’s going to matches, watching on TV, engaging on social media or reading or watching media coverage. All of these competitions provide an opportunity to raise the recognition and profile of our female athletes.”

Value and Visibility is one of the pillars of the Government’s strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Recreation. The ‘It’s Time’ campaign is a key milestone in the ongoing work by Sport NZ to support that strategy.

Sport NZ's research demonstrates that the more visible female athletes are, the more New Zealanders are likely to know them by name, follow their journeys and become fans. This in turn builds their commercial value.

“Globally, women’s sport is stealing the headlines – particularly after the amazing scenes following England’s victory in Euro 2022 and the record-breaking crowd at Camp Nou when more than 91,000 people watched Barcelona play Real Madrid in the Champions League,” says Raelene Castle. 

“Greater awareness and engagement in women’s sport in Aotearoa now, will mean this generation of female players and athletes can, and should be, an inspiration to the next.”

Sport NZ will work closely with national sporting bodies to help drive the “It’s Time” campaign and provide an opportunity for as many sports as possible to be a part of it.

As the Football Ferns head away for their next game against Japan, New Zealand Football Chief Executive, Andrew Pragnell, says it’s an exciting time for women’s sport but as Sport NZ’s research shows, the job isn’t done.

“This is why campaigns like this are so important, to champion our wāhine who are representing Aotearoa at the highest level.

“It’s time the whole country gets behind them, with two of the biggest events in women’s sport happening in our backyard over the next 12 months.”

Netball NZ Chief Executive, Jennie Wylie, says the campaign is timely, with the Silver Ferns currently preparing for October’s Constellation Cup and with the FAST5 Netball World Series in Christchurch in November.

“The Constellation Cup is important preparation for next year’s Netball World Cup and we’re encouraging Aotearoa to get behind the Silver Ferns and women’s sport in general. 

“For Netball New Zealand to also win the rights to host the FAST5 Netball World Series is  another opportunity to see the best athletes compete on the world stage. It’s so important for all New Zealanders to engage with, and follow women’s sport, so that our young players, and up and coming athletes, can see there is a pathway for them.”


Media contact:

Michelle Pickles
Group Media Manager
021 833 244

Notes to editors:

More information on the “It’s Time” Campaign here.
More information on the Government’s Women and Girls Strategy here.

Key Research insights:

  • Awareness of female athletes is significantly lower than comparable male athletes which impacts the marketability of women’s sport.
  • In team sports in particular, awareness of female athletes is well below that of male athletes.
  • Only 1 in 3 New Zealander’s watch women’s sport regularly.
  • At a total population level, close to half haven’t changed their behaviours towards women’s sport in the last five years – i.e. attending live sport, watching live sport, following on media or social media or talking about it with family and friends.
  • 53% of New Zealanders believe they won’t change their behaviour in regards to how they engage with women’s sport over the next 12 months. 
  • The biggest barrier to watching women’s sport is not knowing enough about events, teams or athletes.

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