Individually and collectively we commit 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 in support of changes to competition structures 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 skill development opportunities are offered to more young people.
- Supporting young people to play multiple sports.
- Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloading.
Now, as the parent of 3 young girls who enjoy sport but not stars by any stretch (they don’t read my blog either) I am really pleased by this. The ages they are now are the ages they are likely to quit. My own love of netball was rudely halted when I didn’t make the Otatara Primary Standard Four netball squad. As a family, we have talked around the dinner table about all the amazing opportunities there are out there are for young people: sporting, cultural, academic and community, and how now is the time to sample stuff and find out what they like. But we also are guilty of extensive post-match analyses of the weekly footie game: when husband is the coach it’s hard not to.
When we think about the strategy it’s interesting to consider how these great objectives will be put into action. A marketing campaign is supposedly the answer. So we will see a bunch of famous sports stars talking fair play, playing for fun, supported by cute gifs and various pieces on social to help us ancients change our attitudes to winning, talent pathways and playing cool about winning and losing.
While I did a marketing degree way back when, I’m not convinced that this is enough to change the way we think. Let’s reflect on WHO is on these sports bodies and sports clubs. Generally a bunch of people who love playing the game. Over the last few years we have seen a rise in academies, intensive training and the like. This meets a market demand (parents and kids who want to excel at a given sport) and a market supply (people who love the sport and want to be paid for providing a service). Those then left behind, who perhaps haven’t the skills, the desire, the transport or the time can then get turned off. Or they just want to play with their mates, but when that doesn’t happen they quit.
We then have a grant ecosystem awash with money to spend on getting kids into sport. Each year in Canterbury alone Sport gets around $20m in grants from community funders and gaming trusts. Scale that up nationally then that’s $200m. In Canterbury the five specific codes mentioned received $22m in the three years 2015 – 2017. And of course some of that is good spend: for shiny new facilities which probably encourage people to get into and stay moving. But a significant amount will go on programmes which actually work against the strategic intent of the five codes.
So if I were in charge I would look to the grant making community for their support of the strategy, and provide the stick to the carrot of marketing. Cut off the money and change would happen. Sport NZ, or the local body (such as Sport Canterbury – or they could get a contractor in to do it (hint)), could run the ruler over the various clubs, see whether their programmes stacked up, and give them a tick (or not). There would be howls from the clubs as their staff wages were no longer funded, but imho this community money is not about jobs for the boys (or girls), or cheap drinks at the bar: it’s about making our communities better places. That grant money could then be used elsewhere rather than on activities that governing bodies – and communities – are no longer that keen on.
This could at least put some of the brakes on some of the thing happening within the club environment, and the spiral of spend that some seem to be in: spirals that many parents are not that happy about, but, given our relative antipathy about the whole palaver, don’t do much about except moan over our flat whites.
I write about this stuff as believe that as need to understand where funding comes from, where it goes, and how it gets there. Third Sector organisations are perfectly entitled to ask for money from grant makers. As a citizenry we allow both those supplying money and those asking for money to operate, and as a community we need to ensure we have oversight over the organisations they choose to fund. I reckon it’s a more informed conversation when we know more. Love to talk with you if you think this is at all interesting, and if you want to dive into the data a bit more than happy to do so. Check out my website http://www.delfi.co.nz/