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Nicki Paterson is taking her experience to the national level.
After eight years as the Otago Secondary School Sports Association’s regional sports director, she has joined School Sport New Zealand.
There she will be the sport development and events manager,
a role similar to the one she has done at a regional level.
Paterson, who will continue to live in Oamaru, is excited to take the new role.
"Any change is always a bit daunting and exciting but I’m probably ready for a new challenge.
"I’ve been here for eight and a-half years and it’s always good to have a bit of a change and some fresh ideas to come into the organisation, so I’m looking forward to it."
Paterson had enjoyed her time at OSSSA and said there had been a lot of highlights.
She had enjoyed working with the people involved in the sports and schools, as well all the events.
It had been good to watch the pupils come through and grow up as well.
"I’ve been here long enough that I’ve seen students that started in year 9 that are now finishing their degrees.
"Even though we’re not directly with those students every single day, you see them coming to events and you connect with them.
"That’s always a highlight, working with young people and providing them opportunities."
Otago had always had one of the highest participation rates in school sport in New Zealand, which had been pleasing, she said.
Last year it had been No1 on that list.
A decline in teacher involvement was a major issue, not just in Otago, but across all of New Zealand.
Paterson said there was no quick fix for that, but said the ones involved did an exceptional job.
"They go beyond the call of duty. They do it because they love it.
"I think things are getting harder in schools.
"There’s less involvement from teachers and I don’t say that in a negative way.
"There’s a lot of teachers that have given 20-30 years of service.
"It’s time for new people to take it on. So often the sports co-ordinators are the ones driving the sport within their school."
She had a few ideas to implement at the national level, such as ironing out some pinnacle tournament clashes that required pupils to chose one sport over another.
However, she added it would be good to start the job and then see what opportunities arose.