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Balance is Better: BOP Sports Codes Commit to Creating Positive Experiences For Youth

Wednesday, April 21, 2021


A push towards ensuring young people have fun when taking part in sport is being welcomed in the Bay of Plenty as more codes adopt the Balance is Better philosophy.

Balance is Better is Sport New Zealand's commitment 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.

It was announced today that another 10 national sporting bodies have joined NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby in backing the Balance is Better Statement of Intent, which was first announced in September 2019.

The new sports to adopt the Balance is Better philosophy are Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, NZ Rugby League, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ and Waka Ama NZ.

Tauranga City Basketball Association's general manager Mark Rogers said the Balance is Better message was a positive move towards looking after young athletes.

"It is important kids play lots of different sports and don’t specialise too early. Over-training is also an issue which leads to injury and drop out. The Balance is Better message is about what is best for the athlete so we should be pushing this message," Mark said.

"Basketball organisations like other sports organisations need to be focused on what is best for the athlete. The Balance is Better message is all about what is best for the athlete therefore we should all be supporting this."

Mark said the Balance is Better message could have a positive impact on the future of sports overall and hoped to "see an increase in athlete-centered programmes and a reduction in the elitism, early speculation and over-training that occurs".

Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle said it was great to see more sports formally commit to these important changes.

“We need to change what is offered and how we engage with young people. There needs to be quality opportunities for all participants, not just the best players," Raelene said.

“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. 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 said.

Among those pushing the Balance is Better message are some of the Bay of Plenty's top athletes including Black Fern Les Elder and Canoe Slalom Olympian Mike Dawson, with both say the philosophy aligns with their own beliefs.

Sport Bay of Plenty's chief executive Heidi Lichtwark said the organisation was a strong advocate for Balance is Better.

"We want to ensure all young people in our region continue to have access to quality sporting opportunities. Our tamariki and rangatahi deserve great experiences that encourage them to remain active for life. It's therefore great to see 10 more sports joining the Balance is Better Statement of Intent, "Heidi said.

"Sport has a big role to play in the wellbeing of Bay of Plenty communities. The Balance is Better approach ensures that we, as adults, are listening to young people and putting their wellbeing at the centre of all levels of youth sport, competitions and player development opportunities."

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.

The commitments outlined in the Statement of Intent include:

  • 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.

Learn More

Another 10 national sporting bodies have joined NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby in backing the Balance is Better Statement of Intent first announced in September 2019.

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