Introducing our Sport NZ Balance is Better Champions

20 September 2019

The Sport NZ Balance is Better Champions programme continues for another year with some new and existing faces.


Sport NZ is excited to announce the continuation of the Balance is Better Champions programme for 2019-2020.

Since the release of our Balance is Better talent plan in 2016, Sport NZ has increasingly sought to influence decision makers in the sport system to ensure all young people receive quality experiences in sport; and to better prepare athletes to reach their future potential as senior athletes.

The objective of the Balance is Better Champions programme is for all young people to enjoy their sports experience, stay involved and to address the following issues in youth sport by ensuring the needs of participants and athletes are put first. The issues are;

  1. Childhood success does not reliably predict adult success
  2. Identifying athletes and specialising early is taking its toll on young people
  3. A focus on winning rather than development

The programme supports and educates our partners and the sports sector who are tackling change to ingrained competitions formats, tournaments and selection processes in their sport, with a focus on 11-18 year olds.

Following last year's pilot programme, we're excited to have the following Sport NZ Balance is Better Champions for 2019-2020:

Andrew Ellis

Canterbury Cricket player and former Black Caps player

Gemma McCaw

Former Black Stick Hockey player

Lara Andrews

White Sox Softball player


Les Elder

Black Fern Rugby player and team captain


Mike Dawson

Former Canoe Slalom Olympian


Rebecca Dubber

Para swimmer and Paralympic bronze medalist


Sophie Devine

White Fern Cricketer and former Black Stick Hockey player

Wendi Henderson

Former Football Ferns player and team captain, and current national league coach


Our champions will work primarily with sport system groups such as sports leaders, coaches, parents and on occasions athletes.

For further information please contact a member of the Sport Development Team.