This week, Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020. What does this mean for Bay of Plenty? David Beck reports.
A fresh wave of sport and recreation funding will help the sector rebuild and grow, says Sport Bay of Plenty chief executive Heidi Lichtwark.
On Monday, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said: "We're setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/21 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite level. All levels of the sector have been affected by Covid-19 and this funding is focused on making sure the sector continues to thrive, while also ensuring New Zealanders can continue to maintain their wellbeing through physical activity."
This includes the $68m Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa fund to support community sport. This builds on the KiwiSport Regional Partnership fund to provide quality opportunities for young people who are missing out, particularly in higher deprivation areas.
Lichtwark said the effects of the nationwide lockdown, because of Covid-19, had on activity levels highlighted the need for such a fund.
While exactly how the funds would be distributed throughout the regions was still to be worked out, she estimated Sport Bay of Plenty would get "just over $1 million" from the new fund.
"It's exciting and extremely good news for the people that work in the sport and recreation sector. Obviously, there is still recovery from Covid-19, especially in sport which was quite hard hit.
"We're still awaiting a little bit of detail following the national announcement but I think we'll get that in the next four to six weeks, which isn't too long.
"The new fund, Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa, is specifically targeted at 5 to 24-year-olds, in particular those in high deprivation. From the data that we've gathered, particularly during lockdown, we've found young people in high deprivation were not as active as they were before Covid-19."
She said the funding would help Sport Bay of Plenty explore the exact reasons for decreased activity and provide solutions.
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"We do know that it will be a fund that we administer so we will be giving it out to the community, that might be to providers or clubs or schools. We're not sure yet, exactly how it will work, but we will have more information soon."
The announcement also included another round of the Community Resilience Fund, with a further $10 million being made available nationally.
The Community Resilience Fund, administered locally by Sport Bay of Plenty, is open to regional sport organisations, sports clubs and recreation organisations, and aims to help them remain financially viable through the immediate period of disruptions caused by Covid-19.
Lichtwark said Sport Bay of Plenty gave out about $320,000 in the first round of funding and would have a similar amount to administer in round two.
"That is a very specific fund, targeted at relief and targeting fixed costs between April-June. We gave out as much money as we could within the boundaries of that fund. We're quite happy and optimistic now that the fund will continue, that the parameters will be slightly broader so we'll be able to help even more regional and local sport.
"I think the people in sport are resilient. Their response and their attitude and solution finding is so impressive. There is still some sport that is hurting financial but certainly, their intentions are strong and their resilience is amazing. A lot of them are used to running entirely on volunteers so they are used to running on a small budget."
Robertson said Sport NZ has also earmarked $3m for individuals and families in financial hardship who are unable to take part in sport and recreation opportunities. Details on how this funding will be distributed will be released in the coming weeks.
"All the funding announced today, and the remainder of the package will continue to place a specific emphasis on groups who are traditionally less active or are missing out, including women and girls, Māori, disabled people and our high deprivation communities.
"Having prioritised initiatives that focus on the areas in most need of support, Sport NZ will continue to engage with the sector to decide how the remaining $180 million is best spent over the next four years to help sport recover, strengthen and adapt," Robertson said.
The first release of funding from the Sport Recovery Package includes:
• A $68m fund (Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa) to support community sport. This builds on the KiwiSport Regional Partnership fund to provide quality opportunities for young people who are missing out, particularly in higher deprivation areas. ($34m is from the Sport Recovery Package and the remaining $34m from existing Sport NZ baselines).
• A $25.4m fund for Sport NZ's national partners to strengthen and adapt. This funding will also support specific sports with the cost of running premier national leagues affected by Covid-19 (including basketball).
• $10m for a second Community Resilience Fund to provide further immediate support to a broader range of eligible local and regional organisations.
• An initial $7.3m package to improve facilities for New Zealand's upcoming hosting of world cups.