Basketball New Zealand has supported Balance is Better since it was first announced in September 2019, now the organisation has officially signed the initiative’s Statement of Intent.
BBNZ has joined along with Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, NZ Rugby League, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ, Waka Ama NZ, NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby as the sector looks 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.
GM Community Basketball, Brad Edwards, says the philosophy puts the needs of young players first.
“In sport, people can sometimes lose sight of why young people play, which is to have fun, be challenged, develop and improve, be part of a team or group, and enjoy time with friends.
“For basketball, Balance Is Better means providing opportunities for players to enjoy the game at all stages. It means focusing more on fun and development, and less on competition and winning. It means looking after the physical and mental wellbeing of our participants and encouraging them to play in different positions and different sports. We want to continue encouraging this more in our community.
“As a sport, we have work to do to ensure our participants are at the heart of what we do. We have made some good progress with the introduction of regional events replacing national age groups at younger ages. Our Girls Got Game and Kiwi Hoops programmes are also a great example that focuses on fun and friends, and not winning or competitive environments.
“We have our Balance Is Better Champion in Dillon Boucher sharing his own experiences and advocating for change with our members. Over the next 12 months we will continue consulting and introducing further changes,” says Edwards.
Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle says it is great to see 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.
“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,” says Castle.
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 within 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.
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.
“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,” says Castle.