Survey shows sports clubs in fight for survival

sports clubs

A survey of sports clubs in New Zealand has revealed nearly two-thirds of them are either losing money or breaking even.

And in the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association’s inaugural national survey of clubs, 22 percent of respondents said their memberships had fallen over the past five years.

The survey was undertaken by the Association in partnership with the Auckland University of Technology.

Chairman of the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association Gordon Noble-Campbell said 77 percent of clubs reported receiving no direct funding from any governing body, despite 90 percent having to pay affiliation fees or levies.

He would like to see the governing bodies put more emphasis on grassroots sport.

“National governing bodies for all sporting codes and perhaps the government itself needs to think about how resources are being provided back into the grassroots of community-based sport.

“It’s not necessarily about money, it is also about providing resources whereby time-poor volunteers can get the right type of support around things like strategic planning, financial accounting, managing health and safety.”

He said a strong sense of altruism came through.

“Every respondent said a key part of being an amateur was that they’re not in it for the money, that they believe in the benefits of sport in the community, that volunteering is a key part of making sport accessible to everybody.”

Gordon Noble-Campbell said some sports like football and basketball were bucking the trend. Some football clubs in Auckland, which has a growing Asian population, have had to cap numbers.

Futsal, a variation of football which is played indoors is experiencing strong growth, as it’s seen as a convenient option.

But for more of the traditional clubs times are tough.

Shrinking clubs

Robbie Hutchinson is club captain at Upper Hutt United Cricket Club, having been involved in the club for 11 years.

Their membership is declining with just three senior teams, three social 20/20 teams and one women’s T20 team.

“Life’s changed, especially from a cricket point of view. It’s a sport that takes all day and I think player’s time is more precious now, maybe jobs are asking more of their employees than they were 15-20 years ago.”

He said not enough school leavers were joining clubs.

“There’s a finite talent pool coming out of colleges every year and we’ve got 12 clubs in Wellington that are trying to attract those players to their clubs so it’s not a very pretty picture at the moment.”

He said New Zealand Cricket should be “panicking” about the effect a weak club system was having on elite cricket. Continue reading

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