One of the biggest obstacles to the growth and well-being of amateur sporting clubs nationally may be the increasing insistence of high-schools to charge students who want to join school teams which play in local sporting competitions. While the cost of participation varies by sporting code, it’s not uncommon for families to be asked to stump up over $100 per child, before the costs of clothing and equipment.

With social acceptance critical to teenagers, the embarrassment of not being able to pay what are generally hefty (and increasing) subscriptions fees to participate, will be a cause of concern for sporting administrators in amateur clubs throughout New Zealand. The financial stress on families who have more than one teenage child involved in sport can create an unbearable family burden.

In a study undertaken by the University of Michigan, 19% of families that earned less than $60,000 per year reported the cost of sports led to at least one of their children not participating. Among households earning more than $60,000 per year, just 5% of parents said cost had a negative impact on their child’s participation. In summary, nearly 1 in 5 low-income parents reported that cost forced their child to cut back on sports.

While the Government has outlined its plans to replace voluntary school donations with a $150 payment per student, consideration should also be given to a universal student sport subsidy which enables all students to be part of a high-school team. This will not only provide benefits to physical well-bring, but also social and community benefits which teenagers can carry into their adult sporting lives, should they choose to become a member of an amateur sports club.