How do we keep kids in sport?
That is the question and mission for Sport Whanganui, which officially launched its new plan to keep kids involved in sport for longer.
Called Balance is Better, Sport NZ has developed an evidence-based approach focusing on why young people play sport.
The goal is to ensure the system provides opportunities for all tamariki and rangatahi to experience the benefits of sport.
The nationwide initiative was pitched and launched to Whanganui organisations on Wednesday morning.
Sport Whanganui's sport and club partnership lead Aidan O'Connor said the philosophy was about changing the current system to better facilitate rangatahi and their sporting desires.
"Youth play sport to have fun, develop and improve, be part of a team and enjoy time with their friends. We need to change the way we think and operate that best suits what youth are telling us."
Over 40 people from Sport Whanganui and various sporting bodies from the Whanganui region gathered at the Whanganui War Memorial Centre for the presentation and launch of Balance is Better.
Fifteen sports have signed up to the Balance is Better model.
Whanganui City College old boy and national consultant for sport development, Alex Chiet, led the presentation, showing some of the evidence Sport NZ has gathered over the years when it comes to why youth play sports.
"It all comes back to why people play sport - to have fun and be with their friends."
Issues such as early specialisation in specific sports, youth representative sides and focusing on winning instead of long-term development were bought up extensively in discussions.
Chiet said it could be difficult trying to balance priorities and resources in sports, where a small percentage of elite sports people take up the large majority of resources.
"It's really important we start thinking differently. This philosophy is about keeping young people in sport and realising their potential."
O'Connor said it was difficult to change systems that had been in place for decades, and that it would take time to implement changes.
"It's going to be a long journey with some difficult discussions to be had. Teamwork between sports and organisations will be key going forward. If we operate like silos, we are like dominoes. If one falls down, they all fall down."