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“It’s more than a game” is a wonderful tag-line developed by Rugby League in Aotearoa. Netball NZ purpose is “to connect and inspire communities”. These are lofty ideals and positions the value of sport as contributing materially to one of our highest order national outcomes – the wellbeing of New Zealanders.
But when we look at critical metrics i.e. participation in sport (rates and numbers are declining), national surveys like Active NZ, Voice of Participant, and the Voice of Rangatahi (the expectations of young people are not being matched by the quality of experience), something needs to change if we want to be able to ‘walk the talk’ and continue to make the society level of change we are aspiring to.
Not all of this is the responsibility of coaches. There are major sport system changes that are required if we want to keep pace with the expectations of current and potential future participants in sport. But, as we all know, coaches are one of the most important enablers of a young person having a quality experience in the sport(s) they play. With that responsibility comes the opportunity for us to make the change, right at the pointy end of the potential participants’ decision making – will I, or will I not, play sport.