The changing face of sport

Flexibility, social media, shorter formats all part of it

Flexibility, social media, shorter formats all part of it

SHOWING THE WAY: Waka ama and softball leader Walton Walker says adults must be committed, for the benefit of young athletes. Picture by Paul Rickard

GETTING ACTIVE: Whanau Fun — Swim, Bike, Run! is expected to attract a diverse field of entrants. Picture supplied
FAMILY TIME: Dale Koia and daughter Rayne last year in Whanau Fun — Swim, Bike, Run! Picture supplied

SPORT is changing. It’s less structured, more social.

People now want sporting options to be flexible around their lives, says Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief.

That’s one big trend. Another is that younger generations “rock up to play something socially with their mates”, Pishief says.

Sports such as cricket have tried different formats, and beach netball, renegade hockey, quick-rip rugby and four-on-four basketball have emerged.

Pishief notes the region’s many passionate sporting volunteers are stretched by participants’ increasing demands — they want Facebook and website updates, and shorter, less formal leagues.

Participation in organised sport has been falling in recent years.

A Sport New Zealand analysis of the period from 1998 to 2014 showed the proportion of adults taking part in weekly activity dropped from 73.3 percent to 65.6 percent. The decline was sharpest among young adults.

Both men’s and women’s weekly participation rates declined, at a faster rate for men than for women.

The proportion of adults volunteering as coaches, instructors, referees, parent helpers and administrators dropped from 25.9 percent to 23.6 percent.

Membership of sports clubs fell from 32.8 percent to 21.7 percent while gym or fitness centre membership increased from 5.6 percent to 9.2 percent.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chairman Steve Berezowski says in the 2017-18 annual report that technology is changing the sporting and health landscape.

“Free time is now screen time rather than play time. Family time is screen time, watching TV or playing video games, rather than active time.”

Pishief says the quality of facilities can be a barrier to growth, but “participation is pretty good for a range of sports”.

“Where codes do well, they have a good understanding of what the community wants.

“Here in Gisborne, waka ama is doing well.”

For Walton Walker, much depends on leadership, organisation and adults being prepared to “show up”.

Walker is president of the Horouta waka ama club and of Tairawhiti Softball, both of them growing codes in the region.

Whether it’s coaching, managing or “babysitting”, if the youngsters can rely on adults showing up, they will too, he says.

They also have to get the basics right, such as regular meetings. If parents can see a programme is run well, they will bring their kids back, he says.

In waka ama, coaches need to be developed. For softball, tournaments, uniforms and travel costs add pressures, so funding applications need to be in order.

Walker says getting it right for the children creates a platform for adults to become involved.

Less formal events can also be successful.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti promotes an indoor swimming challenge that encourages participants to swim 45.5 kilometres over a two-month period (the distance from Gisborne to Mahia).

The Titirangi Mount Everest Challenge is in a similar vein. It is a seven-week challenge where people walk, run or cycle up Titirangi 68 times, equivalent to the height of Mount Everest.

But the traditional codes remain important to much of the community and administrators are aware of the need to have pathways for athletes and good competitions.

Pishief says good coaching is “really important” to developing players who are active for life.

“We want all kids of different abilities to participate and get a quality experience.”

SPORT is changing. It’s less structured, more social.

People now want sporting options to be flexible around their lives, says Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chief executive Stefan Pishief.

That’s one big trend. Another is that younger generations “rock up to play something socially with their mates”, Pishief says.

Sports such as cricket have tried different formats, and beach netball, renegade hockey, quick-rip rugby and four-on-four basketball have emerged.

Pishief notes the region’s many passionate sporting volunteers are stretched by participants’ increasing demands — they want Facebook and website updates, and shorter, less formal leagues.

Participation in organised sport has been falling in recent years.

A Sport New Zealand analysis of the period from 1998 to 2014 showed the proportion of adults taking part in weekly activity dropped from 73.3 percent to 65.6 percent. The decline was sharpest among young adults.

Both men’s and women’s weekly participation rates declined, at a faster rate for men than for women.

The proportion of adults volunteering as coaches, instructors, referees, parent helpers and administrators dropped from 25.9 percent to 23.6 percent.

Membership of sports clubs fell from 32.8 percent to 21.7 percent while gym or fitness centre membership increased from 5.6 percent to 9.2 percent.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti chairman Steve Berezowski says in the 2017-18 annual report that technology is changing the sporting and health landscape.

“Free time is now screen time rather than play time. Family time is screen time, watching TV or playing video games, rather than active time.”

Pishief says the quality of facilities can be a barrier to growth, but “participation is pretty good for a range of sports”.

“Where codes do well, they have a good understanding of what the community wants.

“Here in Gisborne, waka ama is doing well.”

For Walton Walker, much depends on leadership, organisation and adults being prepared to “show up”.

Walker is president of the Horouta waka ama club and of Tairawhiti Softball, both of them growing codes in the region.

Whether it’s coaching, managing or “babysitting”, if the youngsters can rely on adults showing up, they will too, he says.

They also have to get the basics right, such as regular meetings. If parents can see a programme is run well, they will bring their kids back, he says.

In waka ama, coaches need to be developed. For softball, tournaments, uniforms and travel costs add pressures, so funding applications need to be in order.

Walker says getting it right for the children creates a platform for adults to become involved.

Less formal events can also be successful.

Sport Gisborne Tairawhiti promotes an indoor swimming challenge that encourages participants to swim 45.5 kilometres over a two-month period (the distance from Gisborne to Mahia).

The Titirangi Mount Everest Challenge is in a similar vein. It is a seven-week challenge where people walk, run or cycle up Titirangi 68 times, equivalent to the height of Mount Everest.

But the traditional codes remain important to much of the community and administrators are aware of the need to have pathways for athletes and good competitions.

Pishief says good coaching is “really important” to developing players who are active for life.

“We want all kids of different abilities to participate and get a quality experience.”

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