21 April 2021
Rugby League has joined nine other national sporting bodies alongside NZ Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby in backing the Sport NZ Balance is Better Statement of Intent first announced in September 2019.
NZRL joins the collective and individual action underway 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.
The nine new sports to onboard the collective alongside rugby league are Athletics NZ, Badminton NZ, Basketball NZ, Golf NZ, Gymnastics NZ, Softball NZ, Touch NZ, Volleyball NZ and Waka Ama NZ.
Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle says it is great to see these 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.”
“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,” says Raelene Castle.
NZRL CEO Greg Peters says NZRL has long supported this initiative.
“It is hugely important Rugby league is an enjoyable and safe place for our communities to flourish, so there’s no questioning our support for the Balance is Better initiative. It’s great we can formally commit to this kaupapa and continue to work alongside other codes in providing positive sporting opportunities for youth across Aotearoa.”
The commitments outlined in the Statement of Intent are:
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.
“This is an important step, but it is not their first. They’ve all been on a journey to get to this point, as are many other national sporting bodies,” says Raelene Castle.
“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.”