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Sport governing bodies urged to better support amateur clubs after financial struggles revealed in survey

A survey has highlighted the financial struggles of New Zealand amateur sports clubs.

The New Zealand Amateur Sport Association has urged governing bodies to better support their sports clubs after a recent survey revealed the extensive financial struggles nearly two-thirds of New Zealand clubs face.

A recent survey undertaken by the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association in partnership with the Auckland University of Technology found that of the 1000 New Zealand sports clubs surveyed, more than 60 percent struggled to break even each year.

More than 70 percent of clubs reported receiving no direct funding from any governing body, despite 90 percent having to pay affiliation fees or levies and more than 40 percent without any financial sponsor.

Indicating that the belief members and volunteers should run the clubs was not sustainable, the survey identified a need for more resources in order for clubs to remain viable in the future and concluded that governing bodies could do more to help clubs meet daily operating challenges.

New Zealand Amateur Sport Association chairman, Gordon Noble-Campbell, said amateur sports clubs played a huge role in communities and that governing bodies needed to act fast.

“Amateur sports clubs have a very important community role in terms of providing safe, social environments where people can enjoy organised sport for fun,” Noble-Campbell told the Herald.

“If amateur sports clubs become fewer and far between in the community, a key part of having a healthy, vibrant community also disappears.

“Governing bodies for sport and perhaps even the government could do more in providing resources which will help clubs become more sufficient and successful and that doesn’t necessarily mean giving them more money, but it means giving them the right type of resources which can help them with things like strategic planning or accounting services.

“That’s something that from a government point of view we feel has been overlooked.”

The survey also concluded that nearly a quarter of respondents reported that memberships had fallen over the past 5 years, with recruitment and retention of members a key focus for most clubs.

Noble-Campbell felt that amateur club membership retention was another key area which had been heavily overlooked by governing bodies and said could consequently see an effect on the elite level.

“We know anecdotally that membership numbers have been under stress,” he said. “It tends to suggest that it’s going to be a challenge for [the clubs] to maintain facilities, buy equipment, to create programs, which are actually going to encourage people to become members.

“They do act as a feeder for the elite of sports, however, if a sporting code has it’s focus totally on the elite arm then there is a big risk that if the numbers start to fall at the grassroots, suddenly the pool of potential talent is no longer there.”

Other findings revealed that volunteers and members spend an average of 90 hours a month undertaking key roles, with a quarter of members per club being inactive in terms of regular participation.


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