Youth sport is set to undergo a dramatic shake-up as the leaders of Sport NZ and the country’s five largest participation sports speak out in a united front against negative experiences that are driving too many young New Zealanders away from sport.“We’re taking a stand to bring the fun and development focus back to sport for all young people,” Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin says.“This includes pushing back against early specialisation, over-emphasis on winning and other factors that are driving young New Zealanders away from sport. Sporting organisations are aware of the problem and some are already making changes but more is required and the six of us are stepping up to say we will lead the way.”
The group have signed a Statement of Intent, published today in the New Zealand Herald, Dominion Post and Christchurch Press, that they believe will pave the way for substantial change in how young people experience sport in this country.
Individually and collectively the group commits 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, clubs and schools to identify young talent later in their development, rather than sooner, including reviewing the role and nature of national and regional representative tournaments
• Supporting young people to play multiple sports
• Raising awareness of the risks of overtraining and overloadingThe six organisations have also announced that they will be launching an integrated marketing campaign early next year, targeted at youth sport influencers such as parents, caregivers, coaches and administrators, to further raise awareness of the issues and help drive positive change.With close to 600,000 young people participating across the five sports each week, the group believe that the collective action will be a ‘game changer’ for young people.
“We are fully supportive of Sport NZ’s position and feel it has the ability to be a game changer for sport in New Zealand,” New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell says.“It is never easy to make changes to culture, but we need to look at the way our young people play sport and ensure it is appropriate for their stage of development. With the backing of some of our leading sports organisations, I am sure we can all make a positive impact on the future of sport for young people in New Zealand,” he adds.“We are also excited about what this culture change could mean for off the field, as we strive to improve our side-line behaviour in all sports and look to create an environment that is fun and supportive.”
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Article added: Tuesday 03 September 2019