Squash legend Dame Susan Devoy has been appointed the new chief executive of Sport Bay of Plenty.

The 38-year-old multiple world and British Open champion will take over from outgoing chief executive Kelly Tunnell in February.

Dame Susan has worked in various advisory roles in recent years, including the government-appointed task force on sport, fitness and recreation.

But the chance to put the talk into action was too good to pass up.

"I thought I'd better put my money where my mouth was," she said today.

"This new challenge gives me a chance to operate at the coalface of New Zealand sport not just at the elite end. I believe the backbone of New Zealand sport is in the regions and unless we foster that we will never fight the lack of physical activity that we currently face."

Sport Bay of Plenty chairman Don Riesterer was delighted with her appointment.

"It was certainly a pleasant surprise when we first saw her application," he said. "I think it says something for Sport Bay of Plenty that she chose to come to us."

Born in Rotorua, Dame Susan said it was always her intention to move her husband, John, and their four boys back to the region, after being based in Auckland for many years.

"It's a good move for our family. We got caught in the rat-race up there for a while, and the opportunities in the Bay for young families will be a lot better."