Heading into another busy weekend of sport around the country, Sport New Zealand Chief Executive Peter Miskimmin is reminding parents and other supporters to be mindful of their behaviour on the sidelines.
A couple of recent incidents have brought sideline behaviour into the spotlight, and Miskimmin says there’s simply no place for any sort of abuse or violence in sport, particularly children’s sport.
“Playing Saturday morning sport is a rite of passage for most Kiwi kids, and it should be a positive experience for them. It’s unacceptable that some adults are hi-jacking that, by abusing and attacking players, officials and the opposition.”
“Everyone involved in sport has a responsibility to ensure that the experience – from the playground to top level sport – is a positive one for all involved. Sport makes a huge positive contribution to New Zealand and New Zealanders, and incidents like these undermine that. They could turn young people off sport and that would be extremely sad, because sport should actually enrich their lives.”
Miskimmin says a lot of good work is being done to promote appropriate sideline behaviour, including NZ Rugby’s APPLAUD campaign which features Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Sonny Bill Williams as ambassadors, the Are You Part of The Team? programme run by Sport Hawkes’s Bay, and Sport Otago’s SidelineBehaviour Project. Sport NZ has also recently invested in an Active Communities initiative being led by Aktive – Auckland Sport and Recreation, called Good Sport, which looks at how to educate parents and coaches around creating a quality sport environment for young people.
Sport NZ provides guidelines for the sport sector such as Safe Sport for Children and Best Practice Principles for Young People’s Sport, which are available here.
“I applaud all those who are speaking out on this and saying we need to let kids be kids. The emphasis for young people’s sport should be on fun, challenge, development of skills and social connections. They need to learn to win and lose well. As parents and supporters we need to keep that in mind, and take the opportunity to remind each other if we see that behaviour emerging.”