SPARC’S elite sports funding strategy flawed

Sport and Recreation New Zealand’s new high performance funding strategy has been criticised by Green Party Sport Spokesperson Keith Locke for not properly funding high performance in mass participation sports.

SPARC this week announced its new high performance strategy, which will see 70 percent of SPARC’s high performance funding directed towards just six sports, a decision which has disappointed the Green Party.

“We should be giving kids something to aspire to in the popular, mass participation sports, not just those we can win or get medals in,” Mr Locke says.

“Of course, every New Zealander is proud when New Zealand athletes win medals is sports like rowing and sailing, but we also need high-achieving role models in sports which are widely played by large numbers of New Zealanders.

“According to SPARC’s own figures, there are more boys in soccer clubs than in rugby or cricket clubs, and soccer is also becoming increasingly popular among girls. Surely we should be funding high-performance soccer to provide role models for them.

“Soccer apparently doesn’t fit SPARC’s criteria of a sport’s ‘importance to New Zealand’ because we are unlikely to ever win a soccer World Cup. We’ve got to get away from winning being the only measure of national success. As Australia has just shown, and as the All Whites did back in 1982, just making the World Cup finals is a great accomplishment and can generate huge enthusiasm.

“Sports like soccer, tennis and basketball are popular in New Zealand and around the world precisely because they can be played almost anywhere and are suitable for people of all shapes and sizes. We should be encouraging high achievement in the sports New Zealanders play in large numbers, as well as in those elite sports in which we already excel,” Mr Locke says.