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New Zealand shows the way when it comes to supporting new thinking in community sport

A few days ago the government of New Zealand through the Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson announced their Budget 2020 support package which is a four-year $265m (£133m) grant.
This is the largest ever investment by the NZ government into Play, Active Recreation and Sport Sector and is on top of two previous packages worth $105m announced a few weeks ago.
So this is a significant investment in a country with 4.8 m inhabitants, but what is really interesting significant is where the investment is going.

$78 m (30%) is going to a strand called

Different and Better

“Because this is a once in 50-year opportunity, we have to make the most of this chance to reimagine how the sector might look in the future and what will best enable it to meet the needs of all New Zealanders, including those who are currently underrepresented.

Part of this work will be exploring what that future might look like, and how we might use new technology and research to modernise the sector. It will also include a series of contestable funds to support new and innovative ways to create opportunities for New Zealanders to be active”

“Our sector won’t maximise our future potential if we simply replay our current approach.” Peter Himkimmin, CEO, Sport New Zealand

Here at the Sports Marketing Network, we salute the government of New Zealand for this initiative supporting new thinking.  The challenge now is who gets that money. In our experience, New Zealand both needs to encourage and support your existing providers to become more innovative, which, in some cases can be a challenge and they also need to encourage all sorts of community groups and sports enterprises to come forward to become part of this exciting development.

But also why does this development stand out?  Why aren’t all governments and sports bodies using this crisis to look at how best to develop relevant activities for the new ‘normal’?

Because there is too much linear and analytical thinking within this sector. Now is the time to drop the status quo.

One example: More than 40% of people who take part in an online fitness class, do so as a family. Especially considering the rules for social distancing for people who live together why don’t our sports bodies encourage families to enjoy their sport together? Family football or family-run, anyone?

  • How do we encourage social and commercial entrepreneurs to step forward and become part of this new movement and help to develop innovative solutions?
  • So how do we deliver a great, sustainable community sport without compromising your sporting and community objectives? How do we provide great customer experiences and grow participation whilst at the same time meeting the strategic objectives of external partners and funders, whether they are from within sport or from health, regeneration or community services?
  • How do we engage with the many inactive people who we have not been able to get active through conventional methods and channels? Do we need new partners and providers and what role can the current sports bodies play?
  • How do we engage the local community and promote community leadership and play our part of the fabric of our local communities?
  • How do we develop and deliver an innovative range of sporting opportunities, attracting people of all ages and abilities?
  • How do we bridge the gap between ‘sport for sport’s sake’ and ‘sport for change’ and ensure that there is a common vision across all parts of the sector?
  • How do we help the current providers and bodies to become more innovative and enterprising and to start thinking ‘wrong’?
  • What does the sports club of the future look like? How can our community sports clubs change and adapt to be relevant in a changing world?
  • Sport or physical activity – is there a difference and does it matter?
  • Who is going to get the inactive active?  How do we develop a more welcoming and relevant workforce?
  • How do the health sector view sport and physical activity?  How can the two collaborate to get more people moving?
  • What is the role of the modern governing body of sport? Just running their sport or being a community partner or something in between?
  • How do we encourage innovation and enterprise to develop new initiatives to get more people active?
  • What does real success look like?

Here at the Sports Marketing Network, we are working flat out to help our clients deal with these questions. They won’t go away

I can go on. But now is the time to create new, more relevant initiatives to get more people active.

Be a positive disruptor and think wrong – good luck