Committing to a better sporting balance

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Mid Canterbury Netball centre manager Erin Tasker (front, second from left) with other Canterbury signatories seeking to end overlapping winter and summer sport seasons.

Mid Canterbury Netball is among a group of Canterbury sport organisation’s agreeing to run their various sports for young athletes in true winter and summer seasons.

It will mean no overlap of sports for junior and youth athletes between seasons, and will see participating winter sports run between April 30 and September 4, and summer sports from October 15 to March 25, 2023.

Mid Canterbury Netball centre manager Erin Tasker said the benefits of adhering to the Balance is Better philosophy were far reaching.

The agreement addressed several issues the sporting codes raised as high risks; some of these being impact on participation numbers and affected quality of experience for athletes and volunteers alike.

The agreement has also highlighted the leadership of Canterbury sports and their commitment to Sport New Zealand Balance is Better philosophy.

“It’s abut decreasing injuries due to the longer break between seasons, and more participants playing multiple sports which will result in less specialisation,” she said.

“It’s also about keeping our young people in sport as it should result in less burn out, and allowing young people to regain that balance by playing both summer and winter sport.”

It could also lead to growth and retention of volunteers, she said.

Sport Canterbury sport development adviser Mike Peacock said four key issues in both junior and youth sport provided the rationale for change.

“Overlapping seasons, which result in little to no recovery and less flexibility for young people to commit to playing multiple sports, young people specialising too soon, increased workloads resulting in burnout, and the rate of overuse injuries and overload,” he said.

Canterbury sports are also seeing a consistent decrease in volunteer numbers across the board.

The alignment also allows young people more flexibility to play multiple sports.

“Having a clear break between winter and summer seasons makes the transition between playing both winter and summer sports so much more manageable resulting in less challenges for families and actually allowing everyone to have some ability to prepare to look forward to each new season more,” Mr Peacock said.

“We also hope that all aspects of this change positively impact volunteer coaches, officials and administrators, who likewise, suffer burnout and fatigue as a result of workload and conflicting long seasons.”

Organisations representatives who recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the plan – believed to be the first in the country – came from netball (Christchurch Netball Centre, Selwyn Netball Centre and Mid Canterbury Netball Centre), Canterbury Rugby Union, Canterbury Rugby League, Canterbury Basketball, Canterbury Hockey, Mainland Football, Canterbury Cricket, Canterbury Rowing, Tennis Canterbury, Athletics Canterbury, Canterbury Softball and Touch Canterbury.

Christchurch City Council, School Sport Canterbury and Primary Sport Canterbury have also signed.