FI­NAL WORD

Jonathon Cole­man, Min­is­ter for Sport and Recre­ation, gives us his take on an as­pect of golf.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS -

here have been many

Td­if­fer­ent facets to my life, but a con­sis­tent strand that has run through­out it has been a deep pas­sion for sport. To para­phrase ex Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter John Ma­jor, I had to ac­cept that I was one of those peo­ple who played sport for the sheer love of it rather than be­cause of any sort of real abil­ity!

From a very early age, I held a deep in­ter­est in the his­tory of New Zealand sport. Some of my ear­li­est mem­o­ries are of trips to Eden Park to watch Satur­day af­ter­noon club rugby. I've been for­tu­nate to watch some of New Zealand's great­est sport­ing ac­com­plish­ments both here at home and in more re­cent years around the world.

As a kid, I was a vo­ra­cious collector of au­to­graphs and made many vis­its to the dress­ing rooms un­der the stands at Eden Park in search of sig­na­tures. I also built up an im­pres­sive scrap­book col­lec­tion as I fol­lowed the for­tunes of New Zealand sports men and women and du­ti­fully clipped the re­ports of their ex­ploits from the New Zealand Her­ald and Auck­land Star.

From my early teenage years, golf was very much part of my life, with reg­u­lar so­journs to Re­muera Golf Club, where I was a ju­nior mem­ber, as well as Cham­ber­lain Park. In later years Penin­sula and Muri­wai were both clubs I en­joyed play­ing at.

I well remember at­tend­ing the New Zealand Golf Open at Ti­ti­rangi in 1982 and be­ing deeply em­bar­rassed as I threw a drink can into a me­tal rub­bish bin just be­side the tee, un­for­tu­nately, it was at the ex­act same mo­ment as Aus­tralian Golf Pro­fes­sional Ge­off Marsh was about to be­gin his back­swing, need­less to say, I never made that mis­take again!

With the birth of our first child and in the midst of a busy po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, some­thing had to give if I was to bal­ance work, fam­ily and sport­ing life. Ever the op­ti­mist I went and pur­chased a brand new Call­away driver the week be­fore the baby ar­rived. Soon after the de­liv­ery of my daugh­ter, I re­alised the driver was prob­a­bly un­likely to ever have the head cover pulled off again, and that pretty much re­mains the case!

Golf is a great game, and this is the best coun­try in the world to play it for a whole range of rea­sons that I don't need to list be­cause read­ers will know this for them­selves. How­ever like other sports, if golf is to ap­peal to young play­ers, it's im­por­tant that it thinks se­ri­ously about how to at­tract peo­ple to the game. For many young adult New Zealan­der's club fees are too high, and the time com­mit­ments too great to make the sport a vi­able op­tion. While there are no easy an­swers for golf clubs, I be­lieve it is im­por­tant that their ap­proach to at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing par­tic­i­pants in the sport is in­no­va­tive and flex­i­ble.

Sport is so im­por­tant to New Zealand on so many lev­els; par­tic­i­pa­tion and com­pe­ti­tion teach young peo­ple many of the skills and lessons they need to suc­ceed in the wider world. Per­se­ver­ance, ethics, team work and deal­ing with set­backs are as­pects of sport that help make young New Zealan­ders, bet­ter New Zealan­ders. It is a big rea­son why I'm so pas­sion­ate about my job.

Dr Jonathan Cole­man is the Min­is­ter of Health and Min­is­ter for Sport and Recre­ation

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