New Zealanders are passionate about sport. It's a part of our DNA. For many of us, there's nothing we love more than heading out on a Saturday to take part in sport and recreation or to stand on the sidelines and support our kids or a local team.
Junior sport is a vitally important part of the sport and recreation pathway. It's a rite of passage for Kiwi kids, and it's where they develop what will become, for many, a lifelong love of sport.
So, it's important that it's a good experience and unfortunately that's not always the case. The problem with all that passion is that it sometimes boils over into bad sideline behaviour.
Although my days of representing New Zealand as a hockey player are over, I'm still heavily involved in the sport as a coach, selector and parent.
Between that and my role as Sport NZ chief executive, I regularly get to see first-hand how Kiwis conduct themselves in and around sport.
The good news is that, overwhelmingly, what I see is people being positive and supportive.
Every weekend, on fields up and down the country, tens of thousands of Kiwi children have a great time playing sport, and learning important life skills by doing so. They carry those positive experiences and attitudes into their adult lives.
Just as sport is important to New Zealanders, so is fair play. We have an international reputation as a country of good sports.
It's been hard-earned and it's something we shouldn't take for granted. We need to continue setting high standards of behaviour on and off the field. We need to continue to show respect for others and act responsibly. We need to set a good example for our kids and let them know if they're not measuring up.
Regrettably, there will be incidents of bad sideline behaviour occasionally, and we will hear about them in the news.
They are the exception, but they must be identified and dealt with appropriately to ensure they don't become more commonplace.
Sport NZ takes the matter seriously. One of the key outcomes we seek in our community sport coaching plan for 2012 to 2020, is a positive community sport environment. We've set actions for ourselves to ensure community sport coaching takes a leadership role in promoting positive sideline behaviour in all National Sport Organisations.
We also support our partners - National Sports Organisations, Regional Sports Trust and bodies such as the Greater Auckland Coaching Unit (GACU), which are implementing schemes such as NZ Rugby's Applaud, NZ Rugby League's Pledge and GACU's One Team, to promote appropriate behaviour.
We also provide resources for clubs to help build a positive environment for everyone involved - players, officials, volunteers, coaches and supporters.
We welcome any efforts that support and champion the importance of good behaviour on and off the sports field and we're pleased to see positive sideline behaviour encouraged through the Herald on Sunday.
Together we can ensure sport continues to be something that brings communities together and helps develop well-rounded young people.