Collaboration key for sports

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Collaboration and creating multisport facilities are key to ensuring sports are well catered for in Wanaka, Sport Otago community sports adviser Kelvin “Tiny” Carruthers says.

Although membership of sports clubs was falling in many parts of New Zealand, Wanaka was performing well, Mr Carruthers said.

“Nationally, a lot of memberships are static or falling, but here memberships are definitely rising.”

Mr Carruthers’ role is to act as a community liaison in the development of sports facility hubs in the region, plus encourage collaboration and co-ordination between groups.

He said Sport Otago was spearheading the Queenstown Lakes Central Otago regional sport and recreation facility strategy, which would be put out for public consultation later this year.

There was an “urgent need” for facilities for gym sports, trampolining and football, and clubs needed to work together to ensure any new facilities met their needs in the long term, he said.

“The football club, for instance, has around 400 members and just hasn’t got enough grounds to play their sport.”

It was a question of “getting the fit right”.

One of the challenges was the high price of land in the region, which was a good reason for different clubs to work together to try to find a solution that could work for more than one sport.

“The days of having a single-use facility for one sport are gone,” Mr Carruthers said.

People had to work together and accept some compromises to ensure facilities were not sitting idle during off seasons or low-use times.

“If the ratepayers are paying for it, then they need to see that it is well utilised.

“It is important that you understand exactly the needs of the sport and then how can that work along with the providers like council.”

Wanaka Associated Football Club committee member Andrew Miller said player numbers had more than doubled since 2014 and they expected increases this year as well.

“Things are definitely on the move in Wanaka in the footballing sense.”

The club used three different playing grounds, teams being spread between Kellys Flat Recreational Reserve, Pembroke Park and the Wanaka Recreation Centre, which “wasn’t ideal”.

“It’s a bit of an inconvenience being spread all over the town.”

Upper Clutha Rugby Football Club senior captain Nathan Simon said there were about 230 members in the junior club, which was much the same as last year.

The premier side had a squad of about 40, and after winning the Central Otago Premier Rugby competition last year the “Rams” would be fielding two sides this year, he said.

Aspiring Gymsports coach and class manager Rae Paterson said the club had experienced strong growth and was “basically running out of space”.

The club spent a “large amount” each year to rent facilities in Reece Cres but it was not a purpose-built building and was almost “not fit for purpose”.

The club was looking at the possibility of having its own facility within the next two years.

“We are at a crucial stage.”

Wanaka Golf Club manager Kim Badger said membership had been “growing with the town” and now stood at more than 1000.

There were challenges for the club in ensuring both residents and visitors were accommodated “because everybody wants to tee off between 10 and 12”.

But the club tried to accommodate everybody where possible.

“What we do is we stop organised golf from mid-December through to mid-January, apart from our New Year tournament, which we invite all our visitors to play in.”

People came to Wanaka for the lifestyle and there was “a real culture in our town about sport”, Ms Badger said.

Sport New Zealand national participation surveys senior researcher Janette Brocklesby said participation in sport and active recreation fell 7.7% nationwide between 1998 and 2014.

Information from Active NZ 2017 showed adults aged 18 and over in Otago spent a longer time participating in sport, on average 5.8 hours, compared with the national average of 5.2 hours.