$10m to back female players
The Government has launched a new strategy to encourage women and girls to get involved with sport at all levels.
Through Sport NZ, the Government will invest at least $10 million over the next three years on the strategy, which will go towards a number of initiatives, including a marketing campaign to increase participation, visibility and value of women and girls in sport.
There will also be a contestable fund for those with ideas on how to get more women and girls physically active.
At the strategy’s launch in Auckland yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said girls were interested in playing sport when they’re young and enjoyed participating with their friends, but then dropped out.
‘‘As they get older, there are issues around wanting to engage for health reasons and being active, but [are] often being self conscious and worried about whether or not they’ve got the skills required and body image issues,’’ Ardern said.
‘‘These are things we should be looking at from a mental health perspective, as well as a sport and recreation perspective.’’
Through the strategy, the Government wants to increase the involvement of women in sport at grassroots and elite levels, and also encourage women to have a bigger influence in coaching and administration.
Some progress has been made at higher levels of sport in parity between men and women and there is increased media coverage of women’s sport.
Overall though, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson said there was still a long way to go before there was a level playing field.
‘‘There is a distance to go,’’ Robertson said.
‘‘But when we look at the Football Ferns and New Zealand Football’s role in making sure there is pay equity there, that was great progress.
‘‘In rugby sevens, we already have that, for the 15s, yes we’ve finally got professional contracts.
‘‘We need to keep pushing and cajoling, but quite clearly the Government doesn’t run those individual sporting organisations.
‘‘What’s in the strategy today, is the fact that when we are coming to do our funding agreements for 2020, we will be looking at this strategy and we will be talking to national sporting organisations about how they’re going in implementing this strategy as part of that funding discussion.’’
Ardern herself admitted she struggled to stick to one sport when younger and dabbled in badminton, hockey, basketball, netball and touch rugby.
The Government hopes that the strategy will lead to women and girls sticking with sport longer.
‘‘There will be a group of girls out there listening to what we’re talking about today and probably almost all of them would have had some experience at some point that’s put them off participating in sport and recreation,’’ Ardern said.
‘‘So that tells me that we do need to worry about it down to a school level, so I hope that we have full buy-in at every single level, because it’s often at school that participation starts or stops and determines whether it carries on later in life.’’
A way to advance women’s sport in New Zealand is to have role models. People like Dame Valerie Adams, Lisa Carrington and others inspire youngsters to take up sport.
But Ardern noted that Black Ferns jerseys were nowhere near as readily available to buy as All Blacks jerseys.
‘‘We should be able to have the most basic things like merchandise for our sports teams that are both female and male, equally available,’’ Ardern said.
‘‘People would be surprised this wouldn’t be the case, particularly given we’re talking about a world champion team and one which has a huge following.’’
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is committed to increasing the numbers of women and girls involved in sport.