Basketball now second-most popular code

Garry Carnachan
Garry Carnachan
Basketball continues to grow in popularity.

It is now the second-most played sport in New Zealand secondary schools, eclipsing the likes of rugby while towering over cricket, according to the 2018 School Sport New Zealand Census.

Netball is still king with 27,139 registered players. Basketball is closing the gap with 26,481.

Rugby has fallen back a spot to third with 25,317. Cricket just makes the top 10 with 9500 players.

Basketball New Zealand chief executive Iain Potter put the growth down to an increasingly diverse national population and the creation of playing opportunities.

''This growth is not a surprise for us. We've seen the growth of this participation trend since the census began,'' he said.

''There's been some great work by the basketball community to foster the opportunities for kids to play. But we could have achieved so much more if the support from central government, the Ministry of Education, local councils and funders corresponded with this vast growth.

''Basketball participation has almost doubled in just 10 years, whereas basketball's funding certainly hasn't,'' he pointed out.

Potter said the changing demographics in New Zealand had also contributed to the sports growth.

''Basketball is a global game that is the preferred sport for many people across many different ethnicities.

''As the populations of those ethnicities grow in New Zealand, so does basketball participation. We are fortunate to see young players of all backgrounds stepping on to our courts.''

School Sport New Zealand chief executive Garry Carnachan agreed basketball was well suited to young New Zealanders.

''Basketball is ticking many of the boxes that young people are looking for in their sport these days - it is fast paced, has options for boys and girls, offers tournament play and has an exciting modified version in 3x3,'' he said.

''While this is great news for the sport, it also poses a number of challenges in providing the required support in terms of opportunities to play and [the provision of] quality coaches, referees and facilities.''

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