Issue 9 : 8 July 2018

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.

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

When Poverty Prevents Participation ...

A recent study by the London School of Economics (LSE) revealed that "cost" is the biggest barrier to young people's participation in sport. In particular for school-leavers, the costs for team sports and sports facilities are too expensive when entering the workforce and while they are generally receiving low (or no) income.

In part, this may explain the significant fall in organised team sport participation by young adults. Where community spirit is low due to anti-social behaviour, or other factors such as poverty, participation also suffers.

In particular, the LSE study noted “active [sport] participation encourages young people to do more training, builds their confidence in accessing jobs, encourages healthy lifestyles, and displaces the need for drinking and other potentially harmful, unhealthy activities.”


Here in New Zealand, community sports clubs have traditionally played a role in bringing people from diverse social backgrounds together in pursuit of common sporting interests, regardless of income, occupation or social standing.

Today, many of these organisations are faltering from low membership, falling income and the challenges of the insular digital era. The social consequences are far-reaching, but to date are not particularly well researched or understood.

When considering barriers to youth sport participation, Jeni Cartwright from New Zealand’s Child Action Poverty Group notes that many of the cost barriers are not associated with a particular sporting code itself. “In many cases, costs of transportation to and from sporting events are prohibitive for many families” she says, also noting that both parents often need to work at times when organised sport is available for their children.

Jeni also observes that the health consequences of poor diet, another characteristic of many low-income families, is compounded by the inability of many children to participate in organised sports, contributing to the growing “epidemic of obesity”.

Sports participation is commonly regarded as a social right, however for many in society, cost is an immovable obstacle to participation. New Zealand’s local community sporting clubs have a key role in providing access to sport for those who might otherwise opt-out. These local organisations provide not only facilities to participate, but the social cohesion that being part of a sporting community creates.

Participation is not just about playing the game, it’s about being part of the community.

Perhaps many of our struggling sporting clubs can become part of a broader government policy for developing the whole person, rather than just developing the sporting personality that contemporary media often craves.

Programmes that sports clubs can provide to the community with this goal in mind, are certainly worthy of our policy-makers' attention.

Kapiti Coast District Council Joins Association ...

The Kapiti Coast District Council is the latest Local Authority to join the Association. The population of the Kāpiti Coast District at the 2013 census was just over 49,000. Most people live between the State Highway and the beach in townships at Paraparaumu, Waikanae and Ōtaki.

Last week, the Council announced a plan to consult on the development of Otaraua Park, a 60-hectare block of land between Waikanae And Otaihanga. Bought by council in 2012, the land has remained largely undeveloped, but is intended to become a home to sports facilities, events spaces and recreation areas for the Kapiti Coast.

The Association welcome the Council as a Member and congratulates it for embarking on its project to expand and enhance sporting facilities for the Kapiti Coast community.

How Many Members Make An Amateur Club Viable? ... 

With financial pressures weighing heavily on many amateur sports clubs, the issue of financial membership (i.e. those able or willing to pay an annual subscription), has become increasingly acute. Based on New Zealand’s 1924 census of sport, the average number of amateur club members, (calculated as the average of the total number of registered players divided by the number of total clubs, across ten codes, including lawn bowls, cricket, boxing and rugby union), was 60.

Nearly a century later, anecdotal evidence suggests people have a less formal relationship with their community sporting clubs, often participating on an ad-hoc basis without committing to clubs in the more involved manner of 100 years ago.

Considering new ways of how to make the concept of membership relevant in society today, is a key challenge which is crucial to the future well-being of amateur sport in New Zealand and forms part of this Association's overall strategy.

Valuing Volunteers ...

In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that (for 2015), volunteer time was valued at $23.56 (around NZ$35) per hour. Organisations in the US use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide. In France (in sports clubs with no paid employees), the average number of volunteers is 17, working (on average) 115 hours per year.

Based on ACCER data, across the traditional Kiwi sports of Cricket, Rugby Union and Netball, there are just over 1,000 active registered clubs in New Zealand. This suggests there is likely to be around 17,000 unpaid volunteers supporting these sports at an amateur level. 


In total, using the statistics above, they are contributing 1,968,685 voluntary hours to support sport at the grassroots. The value of this unpaid contribution to these three codes can therefore be estimated at a staggering $68,903,975 (or $4,000 per volunteer).

If sporting codes thought of this sum as a cash donation, or if volunteers thought of their contribution in a financial sense, what type of recognition would be expected and provided?

Reasons For Not Going Pro ...

A 2016 research paper from Florida State University published in the Journal of Amateur Sport, considered the economic benefits of student athletes, “not going pro”. 

In 2007, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) launched a brand campaign which included the tag-line “there are over 380,000 student athletes, and most of us go pro in something other than sports”. The campaign echoed the statistics which show, for example in American football, that less than 2% of players go on to become fully professional players.


Here in New Zealand, in the case of Rugby Union, over 99% of adult rugby players are not professional, (there are only 240 contracted players, which represent only 0.85% of the adult-playing population). For those that do play professionally, 85% of their working life is ultimately spent doing something other than playing rugby.

Of interest from the NCAA study, US athletes have higher graduation rates than non-athletes; the connection between study and professional sport in New Zealand is less well-structured. The NCAA sees sport as supportive of broader life goals, rather than as an end in itself.

In New Zealand, statistics show that 90% of those who graduate with tertiary qualifications (of any type) are employed after one year, or go on to do further study. Professional sports franchises would do well to stipulate the requirement for their teenage recruits to commit to (and ideally complete) tertiary education. 

As a final note worth reflecting on, the research also showed that the thrill and enjoyment of competition itself often led athletes to forgo educational opportunities, while coaches with short-term (or subjective) outlooks occasionally leveraged this to the detriment of their athletes.

From The Archives ...


“The proposal to form an association to deal with defaulters was discussed last evening at a meeting of delegates from the various athletic clubs in Wellington. Mr. Paterson was voted to the Chair. It was generally agreed that an association such as proposed would be of great service to the athletic clubs in Wellington, as men would be prevented from joining clubs until they had paid subscriptions due to other clubs, and it was decided to further the scheme as much as possible. Another meeting is to be held next week.”

The parlous financial state of many sporting clubs in the late nineteenth century gave rise to a movement which sought to ensure member subscriptions were paid. Those that did not (known commonly as “defaulters”), were effectively barred from moving between different clubs (and sporting codes), until their subscription debts had been fully paid, where owed.

(The Wellington Rowing Club was the origin of the Sports Protection League)

The Sports Protection Association was originally formed in Wellington in 1890 for the purpose of preventing defaulters from moving between clubs and codes with financial impunity. The movement quickly spread to other areas of New Zealand, with organisations being formed in Otago, Canterbury, Westland, Hawkes Bay, and the North Shore of Auckland.

The Otago and Canterbury Associations continued for over 50 years, with the Canterbury reporting 73 affiliated sporting bodies in 1942. 

The Final Word ...

"Real, sustainable community change requires the initiative and engagement of community members."

(Helene D. Gayle, CEO of The Chicago Community Trust)

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

Registered Office, Level 1, 57 Willis Street, Wellington, 6011

P O Box 582, Wellington, 6140

If you no longer wish to receive these emails please click here to unsubscribe.