The announcement of a new campaign from five of New Zealand's top sporting codes to make youth sport less competitive and more inclusive has caused debate across the country.

New Zealand Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and NZ Rugby have signed a statement of intent to make major changes to the way kids play sport so it is more inclusive and not just focused on the winners.

The proposed measures include changing the competitive mindset in adults, reviewing national and regional representative tournaments and looking at how talent is identified with teenagers.

The leaders of the top sporting bodies say the change in outlook is to combat falling rates of kids participation in sport.


The reaction from the New Zealand public on the issue has been divided, with some arguing that competition is needed in youth sport while others have shared their own experiences of losing interest in sport from a young age due to over-emphasis on winning.

Here are some of the feedback received by NZME on the issue:

"Playing sport teaches kids important discipline that help them in other areas of life."

"The schools are to blame, they only want a top team for their advertising. They don't realise a lot of parents know they don't have a future All Black on their hands, so are looking for the school that will keep the kids playing sports throughout their school years - saves us money on therapy later!!"

"The biggest killer of lifelong sport participation is the schools' elite sport system that is killing club sport. Kids and families that are involved in club sport are far more likely to stay involved in their chosen sport whereas school sport ends when school does!"

"I was often the last kid chosen for team sports and felt terrible. However, I persevered and played soccer, swam, roller skated, BMX, athletics and gymnastics. I attended an aerobics class in the 80s at the YMCA which led to many years of teaching and representing NZ overseas many times. Sport is great!!"

All Blacks fans, kids at the Rippa Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport
All Blacks fans, kids at the Rippa Rugby World Cup. Photo / Photosport

"What these guys are saying re winning and losing doesn't make sense. Numbers in soccer, netball, hockey, basketball etc are growing hugely. It is not about winning and losing. Why just focus these changes on rugby! Rugby has changed due to size, more options than previously and rugby becoming more elite based on a progression programme. Winning and losing applies in sport, life, the courts, business etc. It helps people learn and to make themselves better!"

"Cost has a lot to do with the drop off of kids playing sport. My grandson will probably be playing first team hockey for his college next year and the fees are $2000 per year."


"I have four kids aged 7-13. They are active kids but organised sport is generally too earnest, too expensive, the season is too long and the travelling around Auckland for games is super hard on families. They love playing games in a field and more fun based activities after school are awesome. This is a great move - the top bunch will still rise to the top."

"We should strive to win and plan to manage failure. Failures managed well set us up for a future win. Winning is in our DNA and failure is guaranteed but don't try to fail it's not a winning concept."

"The longer kids play the better the chance they have of succeeding - 10,000 hours is a thing. Too much focus on winning too soon is one way to ensure most people won't reach their potential and even have a chance of winning on the biggest stage when it counts."

"These codes are deluded. They face competition from virtual sport that's all about winning so the response is to take the motivation out of playing real sport. They need to ask why kids are playing virtual sport not real sport."

"The reason why boys are getting put off playing is the union is not sticking to the rules in weight! My 12-year-old plays in under 55kg but he plays against much bigger boys!"

"As a junior sports coach, I encourage my teams to play to win. However far more important is participation and enjoyment, so the kids come back, and stay active!"