Golf NZ Joins Collective Stand on Youth Sport

Juniors at Mount Maunganui Club (Supplied)
Juniors at Mount Maunganui Club (Supplied)

Golf New Zealand has joined another 14 national sporting bodies in backing the Balance is Better Statement of Intent for youth sport.

First announced in September 2019 when NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby all signed up to the intent, golf has now signed up along with nine other sports and joined the collective and individual action underway to keep young people in sport by putting a stronger focus on fun and development, reviewing existing competition structures and encouraging youth to play multiple sports rather than specialising too early.

Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle said it is great to see new sports such as golf formally commit to these important changes.

“We need to change what is offered and how we engage with young people,” Castle said.

“There needs to be quality opportunities for all participants, not just the best players.”

The commitments outlined in the Statement of Intent are:

  • Ensuring all young people 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 support of changes to competition structures and player development opportunities.
  • Working with within their 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.

“Sport is a huge part of our society and important for the wellbeing of so many New Zealanders, however, the way sport is delivered has not kept up with what young people are looking for,” Castle said.

“We know that because they’re telling us and many are also walking away.

“The original five sports have done some excellent work and we now have ten more making this important commitment. This is another encouraging day for youth sport in New Zealand.”

Raelene Castle (Supplied)
Raelene Castle (Supplied)

To join the collective stand, national sports organisations must commit at executive and board level, and put resources behind making changes to how they deliver youth sport.

“This is an important step, but it is not their first. They’ve all been on a journey to get to this point, as are many other national sporting bodies,” Castle reiterated.

“There is real momentum behind these changes – a widespread recognition that we need to work hard and work differently to create quality and fun experiences that will keep kids in sport. This is great for participants, future talent and for our sector.”

Golf New Zealand’s Talent Development Programme is already underpinned by a ‘complete player development’ approach where the golfer is placed at the centre and their needs, not wants, are the focus of the programme and those people most closely supporting their development.

A player’s progression within the TDP is ‘driven by the compass (their future direction) not by the clock’. This philosophy and approach align with Sport NZ and Balance is Better.

The new sports are Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, NZ Rugby League, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ and Waka Ama NZ.

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