Changing the approach to youth sport

A united front: (from left) David White, NZ Cricket; Jennie Wyllie, Netball NZ; Mike Bignell, Hockey NZ; Andrew Pragnell, NZ Football; Peter Miskimmin, Sport NZ; and Nigel Cass, NZ Rugby.


Sport NZ and five of the country’s largest participation sports are taking a stand to bring the fun and skills development focus back into the game for all young people.

Sport NZ and five sports – Cricket, Football, Hockey, Netball and Rugby – have signed and published a Statement of Intent that will pave the way for substantial change in the way youth experience sport in this country.

  • The statement outlines six commitments which they have individually and collectively agreed to:
  • Ensuring all young people who play our sports receive a quality experience, irrespective of the level at which they compete.
  • Leading attitudinal and behavioural change among the sport leaders, coaches, administrators, parents and caregivers involved in youth sport.
  • Providing leadership to our sports to support changes to competitions and player development opportunities.
  • Working with our sports and schools to keep minds open while identifying talent throughout the teen years, including reviewing the role and nature of national and regional representative tournaments to ensure that skills development opportunities are offered to more young people.
  • Supporting young people to play multiple sports.
  • Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading.

The move follows significant change over recent years, such as the removal of intermediate age representative teams by provincial bodies in sports such as rugby and netball, and changes across most sports to make young people’s involvement more fun and engaging.

Balance is Better

This action is informed by the Balance is Better philosophy, designed to bring about a change to the way youth sport is nurtured in New Zealand. Learn more through articles, case studies and videos with tips and advice from specialists in youth sport on the Balance is Better Youth Sport Portal.


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