Lack of paid admin adds to club pressures: survey

Amateur sport clubs are facing increasing time and membership pressures yet less than 15% of them have a paid administrator.

A survey carried out by the New Zealand Amateur Sport Association found clubs were facing increased pressures in different areas and volunteer numbers were dropping.

Association chairman Gordon Noble-Campbell, of Wellington, said the lack of paid administrators meant volunteers increasingly had to dedicate significant time to club roles.

But with a quarter of all club members inactive in terms of regular club participation, that pool was not a big one.

"What the survey showed is just under 60% of clubs reported that they were getting good coaching resources from their governing body,'' he said.

"That, though, makes for a big burden outside the playing of the sport. It is put on the shoulders of administrators about things like compliance, health and safety, accounting - all of these things which make a sports club operate.

"This is where governing bodies' help becomes thinner on the ground.''

In the survey, which was sent to 1000 clubs and drew a response Nobel-Campbell described as significant, more than three-quarters of clubs (77%) reported receiving no direct funding from any governing body, despite most (90%) having to pay affiliation fees or levies.

He said it was not just about the money paid to governing bodies but more the support in many areas from the head body to the clubs.

Health and safety and compliance costs were going up all the time and everyone had the right to feel safe and secure when a member of a club. But that safety work had to be carried out by someone, and clubs were struggling to find people to carry out the work. This was where expertise from governing bodies was important.

More than 60% of clubs were losing money or just breaking even, so there had to be a good balance between the love of the game and the financial challenge of maintaining a vibrant community focus.

Many clubs were too focused on the actual sport and did not recognise they were places of support for the community.

Nobel-Campbell said clubs needed to be vibrant places in order to engage with younger people who were looking for something positive in the club space.

"Many clubs have got sport ahead of the community in terms of importance.

"Clubs have a long and proud tradition and it is hard to see that through a different lens. A lot of clubs like to be fiercely independent.''

Nearly a quarter (22%) of survey respondents reported membership had fallen over the past five years, and recruitment and retention of members was a key focus for most clubs.

The survey reported that all clubs relied heavily on volunteers to undertake key roles - averaging 90 hours per month.

The absence of money as a motivating factor for participation in clubs continued to be fundamental, although it sharply contrasted with the financial and organisational challenges in maintaining and operating a club today.

The association started in April last year to promote amateur sports clubs and their importance in New Zealand.


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