The biggest challenge facing Sport New Zealand at present is the steep decline in teenage participation. Their data shows that at 12- 14 years, 96 per cent have been active in the past seven days with the age group on average taking part for 12 hours per week. By the time they reach 18-24 years, only 73% are active each week and the duration has more than halved to 5.5 hours. The core focus of Sport New Zealand's new, four-year strategic plan is getting "Every Body Active". Sports reporter David Beck looks at what the plan means for Bay of Plenty.
Too many young people are doing less physical activity as they enter their teenage years but Sport New Zealand has a plan it hopes will help address the issue.
Sport New Zealand chief executive Peter Miskimmin was at Sport Bay of Plenty in Tauranga on Wednesday for the regional launch of the organisation's new strategy to "Get Every Body Active".
The strategy will shape the way Sport NZ invests more than $250 million of Government and lotteries funding over the next four years and is part of a wider 12-year strategic direction.
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Miskimmin said New Zealand was not alone in seeing a decline in teenage participation in physical activity.
"These are worldwide trends and issues - sedentary lifestyles driven from technology and urbanisation, and a whole lot of other things. What we do know is that our teenagers want to do things in different ways to what has historically been delivered.
"Looking at new opportunities to engage with teenagers in a way that meets needs is really critical. Looking at how we adjust that offering, how we work with them."
He said it was important to recognise that physical activity did not have to be overly competitive and sporting organisations needed to provide for both those who enjoyed competition and those who just wanted to have fun.
"A vast majority of teenagers still play competitive sport, many are not and are opting out to do other things. What are they doing and how can we help them to be active? That's what the strategy is about.
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"We actually want to cater for all because keeping everyone active is important. We want to keep those teenagers that are active now doing what they're doing but we do have a priority around those that are less active."
As well as the short-term focus on tamariki and rangatahi, the four-year strategic plan outlines a significant shift in how Sport NZ will invest for participation outcomes.
"We've learned from our current strategy that the best outcomes are released when you empower local communities to come up with solutions that address their unique situations, and we'll be seeking to work with a wider range of partners to achieve our targeted outcomes.
"We will also continue to work hard to realise the commitments outlined in our response to the Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation Strategy which was launched in October 2018, and the commitments that will be outlined in a new Disability Plan that will be launched next month."
Participation trends in Bay of Plenty
Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive officer Heidi Lichtwark said the trends being noticed at a national level also held true in Bay of Plenty.
"In terms of physical activity, as a country, we're sort of swimming against the tide in a way because so much of our lives today are more sedentary. I think New Zealanders still really value being active and sport and recreation but a lot has changed in our lifestyles over the past few years.
"We've done quite well to stay as active as we are but the trend is definitely there that participation is decreasing and most worryingly is the decline in young people."
"I think New Zealanders still really value being active and sport and recreation but a lot has changed in our lifestyles over the past few years."
Litchwark said the decline in participation in Bay of Plenty was starting younger and there was a "reasonably significant" drop between the ages of 14-17.
"They spend less time being active and they do less activities compared to when they were younger. We also know, for all young people in the Bay of Plenty, that fun is by far the major motivator.
"Some of that fun is being eroded by being too competitive too young for some people. I think we need a variety of solutions and some of it will be more social, it doesn't mean there won't be a hint of competitiveness at all but absolutely the fun and the social connection are the main motivators for the biggest group of young people.
"Increasing ways to offer that is definitely part of the future solution."
Advice for administrators, coaches, teachers and parents
Miskimmin said when it came to physical activity, it was crucial to listen to what young people wanted.
"The most important thing is the way that adults participated and were active back in the day is not necessarily the way kids want to do it today. What we're hearing from them is they want to play with their friends, they want to have fun.
"They're less interested in competition and winning. That doesn't mean that winning isn't important to some but for many they are seeing it as a turn off.
"I would tell parents, coaches, teachers - anyone involved in youth sport - to talk to the kids around what motivates them and what do they see as success and a quality, fun experience."