A series of spats on the sidelines at youth netball games in Auckland has prompted the city netball centre's chief executive Dianne Lasenby to send out a warning to adult attendees.
Lasenby told the Herald incidents have occurred recently, and are centred around "sideline niggles" with match umpires, in particular, being targeted.
She confirmed the incidents, which she described as "not serious yet" and often involving parents, had taken place at matches with children in "years five and six", or roughly aged 9-11, playing.
Lasenby assured the abusive actions are not condoned and felt it was necessary to be proactive and address the issues before they escalated.
She said nothing had been taken far enough to warrant a judicial process.
Lasenby also revealed staffing numbers plummeted during the Covid-19 pandemic as a cost-cutting measure, making it difficult for those working for the organisation to police game days to an optimum level.
She added it is unlikely they will be able to employ more in the near future to cater to the high number of players, parents, umpires and spectators that attend. Over 900 youth teams play at two venues located in St Johns in East Auckland and Windmill Park near Epsom.
As a result, Lasenby is urging attendees to "do their part".
An email from Lasenby is believed to have been sent out on Tuesday afternoon.
As well as reaffirming Auckland netball's expectations, the email directed receivers to the body's code of conduct policy, which lists the following behaviour as unacceptable: "violence in any form, assault by any member or spectator on another person, and verbal abuse by any member or spectator towards any other member or spectator".
Auckland netball states that those affiliated with it are connected to Netball New Zealand, and thus bound to the national body's rules, regulations and code of conduct as well.
The Auckland Netball Centre is the largest of its kind in New Zealand, and coordinates games and provides netball competitions, development programmes and a handful of pathways.
The body is based in St John's where it moved in 2006, with Windmill Road used as a second venue. The two locations share hosting duties for youth matches on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Tackling the poor behaviour of parents, in particular, has been a central focus of many sporting bodies across the country, and has been attributed to children giving up on a variety of codes.
In 2019 New Zealand Rugby, NZ Cricket, Netball NZ, NZ Football and Hockey NZ signed a statement of intent for major changes to make sport more appealing to children, which included improving how parents view and behave at youth sport.