In a small office at the foot of Mt Eden, New Zealand sport last week moved into a new era.

A meeting between five existing professional players' association - rugby, cricket, netball, soccer and hockey - saw the formation of an umbrella organisation, the New Zealand Federation of Athletes.

Athletes outside those five sports will be encouraged to join.

Not every sports administrator will be pleased with their arrival, but Peter Miskimmin, the chief executive of Sparc, has welcomed the initiative.

He hoped it would drive top-end sport towards a more athlete-driven model and would result in athletes being included on the boards of national sporting organisations.

Rob Nichol, manager of the New Zealand Rugby Players' Association, has been appointed chairman of the fledgling organisation with Tim Lythe (netball), Andrew Scott-Howman (soccer), Heath Mills (cricket) and Dion Gosling (hockey) representing the other associations on the board.

Roger Mortimer, performance director at New Zealand Cricket, and Valerie Vili's manager Nick Cowan are expected to join the NZFA board as independents.

Players' associations, most notably cricket and rugby, have been painted as protagonists against the NZRU and NZC respectively, but Nichol said the NZFA was not set up to do battle with the various national sports organisations.

"We've tried to do this in the most open, collegiate, non-threatening manner possible," he said. "We believe New Zealand is a small country and any opportunity to share resources and share ideas is desirable."

The big question is whether the formation of the NZFA will fundamentally change the way sports organisations and Sparc deal with the athletes. Miskimmin does not believe so.

"It's only right and proper that athletes are given a voice. This has worked well with the likes of rugby and cricket and I would imagine other groups would be useful," Miskimmin said. "I'm a strong advocate for the boards of national sports organisations to include an athlete. It is important that organisations have the input of athletes, and it is something Sparc is conscious of."

With the best will in the world, it is likely the NZFA's first big-ticket item will pitch them into a battle of wills with the NZOC.

The NZFA is pushing strongly for independent security advisers to be employed before the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October. The NZOC has so far been happy to take the advice from an inter-agency security team put in place by the Government.

Not everybody at NZOC is happy with Nichol and Mills' involvement in the process, believing they are doing little more than scaremongering to get traction for the NZFA.

They maintain they are duty-bound to seek the best protection for their athletes as rugby, netball and hockey teams will all be travelling to India.

The NZFA will meet with the various parties in Wellington next week, but Nichol said "it would be premature to make any decisions at this moment" as to what action could be taken if the athletes did not receive the assurances they were after.

NZFA hopes to soon form an athletes advisory group to cover sports not represented by the five existing player associations.

Nichol said it was a natural extension of what they had already been doing. "We found ourselves naturally gravitating towards helping other athletes in other sports."

Nichol played a pivotal role in helping bridge a possible return to competitive kayaking for Ben Fouhy.