Survey finds high sport participation

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A national sport and activities survey has found a high level of participation among children and adults and Sport Central regional co-ordinator Bill Godsall said the figures were an accurate reflection, particularly when applied to the region’s primary school-age children.

The “Active New Zealand’s New Zealand Participation Survey 2017” was released on June 28.

The survey, conducted last year, involved 6004 young people aged between 5 and 17 and more than 27,000 adults.

The report said that in any given week, 95% of young people and 73% of adults took part in organised and independent sports or other recreational activities.

Children spent an average of 11 hours taking part in 5.4 sports and activities, which included school and organised sports, running and playing with their mates and riding scooters, each week.

Children between 12 and 14 spent the most time participating and once they reached 15 to 17, it dropped off significantly because of other commitments.

Mr Godsall said the figures would be fairly accurate for primary school-age groups.

“Primary school participation was really high and our teachers and coaches are doing a really great job,” he said.

“That is when they start to develop habits for a lifetime of sport.”

For those in the secondary school age group, other things became more important, as they were studying more and had to be more self-motivated to do physical activity.

He said often older boys might not wish to play sport if their mates did not, and girls might not wish to play sport because it was “not cool”.

In addition, older young people might be embarrassed to play sport if their parents coached their teams.

“However, parents are really good at putting their hands up,” he said.

“Parents and teachers are the backbone of sports.”

He said events like the Football World Cup and the Commonwealth Games increased the level of interest from young people.

He said most sports were well funded by charitable trusts in the region and sports like netball and rugby provided programmes that taught the basic skills required in simplified programmes that encouraged younger children to participate.

The report found adults averaged 5.3 hours in 2.3 sports and activities in a week.

A lack of energy and motivation and other commitments were barriers for those aged 18 to 49.

The report said weekly participation was “relatively stable throughout adult years before declining from age 65, yet adults do not regain the high levels of participation of their youth”.

Mr Godsall said as it was costly to live in Central Otago, many people had to work longer hours as a result, so tended to prefer independent activities such as running or mountain biking rather than competitive sports.

He said one of the bigger motivations to become more active for the older age group was e-bikes, which provided that little bit of extra help when required, although there were plenty of other sporting and recreational activities available.

“The Central Otago community is pretty active and that is awesome,” Mr Godsall said.