Love of the Game Continues To Support Amateur Sports Clubs

Over three-quarters of Clubs (77%) report receiving no direct funding from any governing body*, despite most (90%) having to pay affiliation fees or levies, according to the results of a recent survey of Sports Clubs undertaken by the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association Inc., in partnership with the Auckland University of Technology.

With nearly two-thirds (62%) of Clubs either “losing money” or “approximately breaking-even”, only one-half of Clubs (53%) reported having a Strategic Plan, (with nearly half of all Clubs (43%) having no financial sponsor), suggesting that balancing the Love of the Game with the financial challenges of maintaining a vibrant community presence is a key focus.

While most Clubs (85%) have a home consisting of land and/or facility, less than half (48%) share this with another sporting code, and only a minority of Clubs offer hospitality (by way of catering or bar facilities) as a means of encouraging community engagement outside of the sport itself, or as a means of attracting additional funds to financially support the Club.

In other results, nearly a quarter (22%) of survey respondents reported that their membership had fallen over the past 5 years, with recruitment and retention of members a key focus for most Clubs. The survey reported that all Clubs rely heavily on volunteers to undertake key roles, (averaging 90 hours per month, per Club), with a quarter of members (on average), inactive in terms of regular Club participation.

The survey indicated that Clubs relish their roles in providing a meaningful connection across members in a community, through a shared love of their particular sporting code. The absence of money as a motivating factor for participation in Clubs continues to be fundamental, although this sharply contrasts with the financial and organisational challenges in maintaining and operating a Club today. The survey suggests that governing bodies can do more to help Clubs meet these challenges to remain viable.

In summary, the survey indicates that an ethos of amateurism is still alive and well across New Zealand, including the belief that members/volunteers should run a Sports Club. However to remain viable in the future, there is a need for more resources (financial or otherwise) which provide more sophisticated organisational support.

*57% of respondents receive coaching support, (and may receive other forms of in-kind assistance).