Sport Integrity Framework: Player Welfare

11 June 2019

Player welfare has two elements – on the field and off the field. On the field the focus is on ensuring the safety and wellbeing of participants and athletes in order to minimise the risk and injury to players.

It is a particular focus of HPSNZ as well as professional and semi-professional sport organisations, with rugby and rugby league very active in this area in New Zealand. It covers a wide range of topics including safe facilities and event management, concussion, cardiac screening, access to medical facilities and services and overuse injuries. Referees, umpires, coaches, medical personnel and other officials (including athlete support /entourages at major events) are key in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of players on the field.

Off the field the focus is on ensuring those involved in sport (particularly younger players) are supported to make the right decisions. For example around illicit drugs, prescription medication, relationships, smoke-free environments and social media use. Coaches, management, administrators, entourage and support staff are key in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of players off the field.

Sport NZ Group role

  • Advocate for action towards ensuring player welfare
  • Develop and promote appropriate Codes of Conduct for support personnel across sports (in place at HPSNZ)
  • Provision of athlete services for high performance athletes

Current status

  • Extensive range of athlete services provided to high performance athletes through HPSNZ (e.g. medical, physio)
  • An increasing focus of professional franchises, for examplerugby focus on concussion as well as illicit drugs
  • HPSNZ work on expanding the supplements programme to ensure athletes safe use of supplements
  • NZOC work on entourage

Sector partners

  • National Sport Organisations
  • Regional Sports Trusts
  • Community sport and rec organisations
  • NZ Olympic Committee

Government Partners

  • ACC
  • Police

Other Partners

  • Professional sport franchises
  • Players’ associations


A number of International Federations are active in this space. For example, World Rugby has funded research to establish protocols for managing concussion, the International Tennis Federation provides a Player Welfare officer for professional players, FIFA runs a Player Health programme covering injuries, women’s health and food for football.

Gaps/Potential for further work

The opportunity exists to continue to develop relationship withy ACC around player welfare on the field, particularly as it relates to coaching and managing injuries, Off the field there is the opportunity to share learnings and resources across the sport sector from some of the sports most active in this area (e.g. NZ Rugby). As well as develop stronger relationships with Players Associations to deliver education and understand athletes perspectives.

Sport NZ Group position statement

In line with our philosophy of focusing on the needs and expectations of participants, the Sport NZ Group believes that player welfare both on and off the field and at all levels of sport is a critical element in the provision of sport.

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