Issue 57 : 14 June 2020

Talofa Lava, Kia Orana, Malo E Leilei, Tena Koutou, Hello ...

... and welcome to the latest issue of “For The Love Of The Game”, the official e-zine of the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association Inc. We hope you enjoy reading the articles below.

If you have any feedback on this issue, ideas for future articles, or would like to contact the Editor, please click here. And, you are invited to forward the e-zine to others you know, who may be interested in reading it.

In this issue, we look to Scotland for lessons on how to build and maintain values-based sporting communities, essential for New Zealand's recovery post COVID-19.

If you are interested in applying for membership of the Association, please click here.

Board To Meet On Tuesday, 16 June ...

Following its Annual General Meeting held in Wellington last month, the Association’s incoming Board meets for the first time this week to appoint key Board roles including Chairman and Deputy Chairman, for the current Financial Year.

The Board will also review the Association's Budget for the year and key projects it will support, including the cornerstone “National Sport Club Survey (NSCS)” and the “Kids in Clubs” concept, together with other strategies to help community sport recover from the ravages of COVID-19.

Association To Meet Minister ...

The Association will meet with Minister for Sport and Recreation, Grant Robertson early next month, to discuss and enlist Government support for three specific goals: the “Kids in Clubs” proposal to alleviate financial hardship for families post COVID-19; direct-funding for the Association to continue its work in advocating for organised community amateur sport; and to discuss more generally how the Association can best support the Government in delivering grassroots support to community clubs.

The Death Of Club Rugby ...

Earlier this week, the New Zealand Herald reported that, “in Auckland just 10 of 16 senior clubs will field premier, premier development (or B-grade rugby) and under-21 teams in this year's competition that begins June 20 – the three staple grades of men's club rugby”. The Association understands that other Provincial Unions in New Zealand may be experiencing similar losses of player numbers arising from the impact of COVID-19. As highlighted  previously, the Association is concerned that the reported fall in numbers will have a direct bearing on the financial sustainability of the community rugby infrastructure across New Zealand, which fulfills multiple purposes for community health and well-being, in addition to delivering the game.

(Otahuhu RFC is described as having "significant financial or playing number problems")

A fundamental reason for the fall in numbers is considered to be the influence of secondary schools in promoting elite rugby at direct cost to participation. Waitakere City director of rugby Tony Lafotanoa is reported as saying that, "there's a remnant of boys still wanting to play, but generation after generation have been told to ignore club rugby. That sense of tribalism and belonging that used to belong to us has been pushed back to schools and the schools have shut the gates on the clubs."

("Family", "Faith" and "Respect" are values-based building blocks for community sport)

You can read the full article (please note, this is protected by a paywall), by clicking here.

Tararua District Council Heeds Association’s Plea ...

The Association is pleased to note that its advocacy for community clubs has been considered by many local authorities around the country, including the Tararua District Council (TDC). 

As was recently reported in the “Bush Telegraph”, TDC’s Finance Manager Cameron McKay noted a request had been received by the Council from the Association, to consider the waiving of Council fees for community sport. The waiving of fees would mean $5,000 in lost revenue for the Council, but it would assist 12 community groups. McKay noted that "these groups are normally funded by membership subscriptions, but the potential for income is lower as people are more careful about getting back into sport and there is also less grants funding available. We would like to be able to take some of the pain away for some of these groups." TDC’s Councillors agreed to support the fee waiver.

Viewpoint : “Shinty” Lessons For New Zealand ...

Established in 1893, the Camanachd Association (CA) is the Governing Body for “Shinty”, Scotland’s most iconic team sport. Like Rugby Union in New Zealand, in Scotland Shinty developed as a sport played by people within one community, competing against people from another community. The CA’s vision is “to protect and enhance Shinty’s position in the landscape of Scottish sport and sustain Shinty as a vibrant and integral part of Scottish life”. It’s mission is to “provide the greatest amateur sport experience for players, officials, coaches, volunteers and supporters.”

The CA notes that “Shinty enriches the communities in which it is played. It helps foster a great sense of identity and pride (as well as encouraging fitness and athleticism). It plays an important role creating community cohesion and interest.” As a solely amateur sport, Shinty’s success is largely dependent on volunteers, with the CA recognising the role that volunteering plays in strengthening communities and contributing to social inclusion. Among the eight priorities in Shinty’s strategic plan are: to develop well-organised clubs and associations; and to create club cultures which nuture a values-based development of the game.

Both of these strategic priorities should be equally applied to New Zealand’s entire family of community sports clubs. Unless National Sporting Organisations adopt similar priorities for their grassroots participants, there is a real risk (as identified in the following story) that grassroots sport in New Zealand dies. "Get the values right and the money will follow. Focus on the money as the solution, and the values will be lost forever."

Counting The COVID Cost For Community Sport ...

Peter Dale is the former CEO of the Hillary Commission. (now Sport New Zealand). Last week he commented on the COVID cost for community sport.

Among his concerns, he worries that children will not want to become involved in organised community sport post COVID-19, also suggesting that in regard to council levies on clubs for the use of sports grounds, “councils have quietly ignored any obligations they had formerly concerning healthy cohesive communities which value community effort.”

He observes that, “it will pay to consider whether in our determination to build a strong [sport] infrastructure we have instead built an unwieldy national and regional superstructure comprising an unsustainable cast of thousands doing what once was the sole domain of volunteers.”

You can read his full comments, here.

From The Archives ...



“Mr Atack was born in Southampton, England, and came to Christchurch with his parents when two years old. He was a member of the Press Gallery at the House of Representatives, and apart from his journalistic work, found time to pay attention to various aspects of sport. In former years he had represented Canterbury both as a footballer and as a cricketer. He took an interest in all forms of amateur sport, including football, cricket, and athletics.

Mr Atack became well known as a Rugby Union referee, one of his claims being that he was the first to introduce a whistle on the field, though that innovation was not recognised officially until some years later. In 1906 he visited the United States and Europe and was in California at the time of the San Francisco earthquake, and lost all his personal possessions.

In Wellington he became prominently identified with the Savage Club, in which he held office as Chief Savage. He was associated with the foundation of the Charley's Aunt Club and was a keen supporter of the Wellington Competitions in the early days of that movement.”

(William Harrington Atack, Rugby Referee and Manager of the New Zealand Press Association)

Noting that this weekend saw the first weekend of competitive rugby for some months, it is also worth noting that the first referee in New Zealand, and perhaps in the world, to use a whistle for the control of the Rugby game was William Harrington Atack.

Atack recalled that at the time he took up rugby refereeing there were two umpires and a referee, noting that “the umpires used to quarrel with each other and the referee”. While the referee was in charge of fixtures, he had to use his voice to stop the game, and often “the voice had to be exercised loudly”, which Atack “found exhausting”.

Thinking it over one day, his fingers strayed into his waistcoat pocket, where he encountered a dog whistle. The inspiration came to him that “it would be a fine thing” to use the whistle to stop the game. The next time he refereed he called the teams together and they agreed to play to the whistle; It was a great success and was speedily adopted all over the country. This, he recalled, was about 1883. “Playing to the whistle” has since become a rugby maxim.

(William Atack, caricatured above, was first in the world, in 1883, to use a whistle for rugby)

The Final Word ...

“I value sport, and volunteering for it, as the glue that holds communities together.”

(Peter Dale, Sport Consultant)

© New Zealand Amateur Sport Association Inc. (2669211), 2017

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