Sport New Zealand has today confirmed investment of around $43m a year for the next four years aimed at maintaining and growing the number of Kiwis involved in community sport, especially kids, and ensuring New Zealand remains one of the world’s most successful sporting nations.
The investment aligns with the new Community Sport Strategy 2015-2020, launched in March, and General Manager of Community Sport Geoff Barry says it signals a significant change to the way Sport NZ invests in the sport and recreation sector.
“New Zealand has a wonderful sporting heritage and Kiwis have traditionally participated in high numbers. But things are changing. Inactivity is on the rise around the world and participation trends are changing. Those who are taking part in sport and active recreation want to do it in different ways than previously. We have responded to this with our new strategy and now we need to align our investment also.
“Our new strategy focuses on responding to the wants and needs of today’s participants, particularly young people. We want to sustain the traditional sports that Kiwis love, but we also need to respond to the growing interest in less formal active recreation, and to have greater impact at the local community level. “
Barry says as a consequence, Sport NZ has had to reassess its investment into the sector and make changes in line with its new strategic direction which will impact some of its existing partners.
“We need to lead and support our sport sector to respond to what today’s participants want so that sport continues to be as relevant in the lives of future generations as it has been in the past. If we lose our active, sporty lifestyle, there will be a high price to pay for us as a nation.”
Today’s announcement includes approximately $25.4 million per annum invested in Regional Sports Trusts (RSTs) and National Sports Organisations (NSOs) over the next four years to grow and sustain the Community Sport System.
Barry says investment into the network of RSTs has been preserved, because of their key role in leading local and regional delivery systems. He says investment into NSOs has been re-shaped, with some increases and some decreases.
Today’s announcement also includes $18.1 million per annum into initiatives which impact the strategy’s focus areas of young people, local delivery (particularly in low participation communities) and competitive sport. This includes specific investment in coaching, talent development, targeted Auckland initiatives and Māori participation.
This $18.1 million investment includes several initiatives which are part of the Government’s recently announced Childhood Obesity Plan, including Play.sport which aims to improve the quality and quantity of PE and sport in schools to ensure young people develop a life-long love of sport.
Barry says the changes include an increase in investment in sports that are best placed to impact Sport NZ’s focus areas and grow participation. These include basketball, waka ama, badminton, table tennis, volleyball, golf, softball, touch and tennis.
“We have run a contestable process for investment over this strategic period and we have had a very positive response from the sector. Eighty six applications for funding were made requesting $46 million, almost twice what was available for investment in partners.
“Unfortunately we cannot invest in them all, and because we have diversified our portfolio there will be decreases for some of our current partners. We will work with the most impacted to ensure a smooth transition to new investment levels. However, the change is necessary to ensure the sport sector is responding to what today’s participants want.”
Barry says RSTs will play a key role in the new strategy.
“To bring our new strategy to life we will look to RSTs to lead their local community, as they are best placed to understand and respond to changing participant needs. We will support them to build their own world-leading system, with a focus on the key enablers of community sport.”
Barry says while active recreation is growing in popularity, competitive sports pathways are still important to overall participation.
“We are continuing to invest significantly in the traditional sports Kiwis love to play and we are also supporting competitive sport through separate investment into coaching and talent development, including the Pathway to Podium programme.”
Barry says Sport NZ is just one of many investors in Community Sport and that local councils and community and gaming trusts also make a significant contribution to sport and recreation in communities all over the country. He says Sport NZ is working with other investors to align strategies and ensure there is maximum impact from our combined investment.