Sports Bodies Join Together to Change Youth Sport

New Zealand Water Polo has indicated their support for a commitment by Sport NZ (alongside NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby) to oppose the ‘negative experiences’ that are driving young people away from sport.

“We’re taking a stand to bring the fun and development focus back to sport for all young people,” says Sport NZ CEO Peter Miskimmin. “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 six organisations have committed to the following priorities:

  • 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.

Yesterday New Zealand Water Polo came out in support of the statement, with CEO Chris Wilson saying the following: “New Zealand Water Polo is committed to creating opportunities for participation for all young people.  Water Polo is a sport for all, it develops water skills for life and as young people grow, they have opportunities to participate and have fun with their friends and their team mates.”

“Our recreation and sporting environment is constantly evolving, our decisions and programmes need to be based on evidence and insights.  We need understand our young people better, listen to them and create a sporting environment that encourages them to be active for life.  This means opportunities at all levels of ability and interest.  We want them to have fun and be the best they can be in water polo.”