The newly developed Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards are here to stay following a successful revamped awards season in 2020 when Covid-19 forced Sport Waikato to reimagine the way they celebrate and acknowledge play, active recreation and sport in the Waikato region.
"Covid-19 threw us a curve ball in 2020, but the positive out of it was that it gave us an opportunity to realign our awards season at a community level," said CEO of Sport Waikato, Matthew Cooper.
"What eventuated was a very heartwarming, local and community-focused celebration where we were able to acknowledge innovation, partnerships, collaboration, diversity and most of all the people doing the work.
"It was so successful and well received that we decided it was the new way forward."
The 2021 awards encourage nominations from those in the community who go above and beyond to deliver programmes and initiatives that meet the needs of the participant and create a more active region.
"We think it's time that we recognise those who do the work at a community level – those creating initiatives that are aimed at participation, the boot camps in the local park, those providing inclusive opportunities, the collaborative partnerships and those innovating to meet the needs of the participants. And this year we've included coaching, 'unsung heroes' and youth engagement to the categories," said Cooper.
"We're also excited that while last year's awards were celebrated online, this year finalists will be invited to a special event to acknowledge and celebrate their achievements, and announce the winners."
Along with the judged categories of Community Connection, Sport & Active Recreation Partnership, Outstanding Active Space Initiative and Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, there are three new categories – Community Coach, Community Unsung Hero and Commitment to Youth Engagement.
The categories this year are:
Community Connection Award: Celebrating those individuals or organisations that have created physical activity initiatives that respond to the needs of the community and its participants. This award is designed to recognise those who are working hard to understand their communities and tailor their offerings to help break down barriers to participation, putting participant experience at the heart of decision-making, and using physical activity to create connection in the community to bring people together.
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Celebrating collaboration and the coming together of key organisations to leverage outcomes for the betterment of play, active recreation and sport opportunities and experiences. This award is for councils, community, sport or recreation organisations, iwi, schools or any other organisations who have partnered with others to provide sport and active recreation opportunities to their communities.
Outstanding Active Space Initiative: This award celebrates the unique use of spaces, place and facilities in ways that support increased participation in play, active recreation and sport. This is an initiative or project using a local space - for example parks and open spaces, community halls and facilities, playgrounds, waterways, gullies or school spaces, and it focused on a celebration of the ways that sport, active recreation and play spaces can be created anywhere!
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: Awarded to an innovative initiative that supports diversity and inclusion in sport and active recreation by increasing access, participation, leadership opportunities, community connection and inclusion for ethnic minority groups, disability, women and girls, cultural and religious groups.
Community Unsung Hero: We're looking for those people in your community that help make play, active recreation and sport happen – those who have given their time during the nomination period to provide opportunities, create change and support participation in a volunteer capacity. Maybe they've been instrumental in increasing numbers at your club, provided their expertise at the governance table to support the organisation's direction, they might have lead initiatives, or provided their professional services at no cost to help something great happen.
Community Coach: Nominate a community coach for their ability to create positive team culture, provide participation and development opportunities for all youth sport participants, and promote the spirit of the game - encouraging fair play and commitment to Balance is Better/Good Sports principles.
Commitment to Youth Engagement: Nominate an individual or initiative that supports youth participation in physical activity to grow the number of children and young people engaging in play, active recreation or sport, and reverse participation drop-off. Initiatives may be in the areas of play, active recreation or sport and can be targeted at any age group from early childhood through to young adults (age range 0-24).
Nominations close at 5pm, Thursday, September 30.
This year, all nominees will be judged and finalists invited to a special event on Thursday, November 25 where winners will be announced.
To nominate go to www.wsara.co.nz.