School sport numbers down

Nicolas Alvarez Rey-Zirang (13), of Logan Park High School leaps high while trying to get the...
Nicolas Alvarez Rey-Zirang (13), of Logan Park High School leaps high while trying to get the ball past Otago Boys' High School pupil Felix Moeller (17) in a handball game at Kavanagh College gymnasium earlier this week.PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
The number of pupils playing sport in Otago has dropped - though only slightly.

The participation rate for pupils playing sport at secondary schools in Otago - excluding Wakatipu High School and schools in North Otago - is 65% in 2018, down from 67% the previous year. That was a drop of about 200 pupils.

It was still well ahead of other regions round the country, with a national average of 52%.

In Otago, participation of boys had dropped to 66% from 67%, while girls had dropped to 64% from 66% in 2017.

There had been an increase of 67 pupils across Otago school rolls from 2017 to 2018.

Otago Secondary Schools Sports Association regional sports director Nicki Paterson said the drop was a little bit of a signal for the association and schools to look at what they were offering and what pupils were doing.

"Maybe girls want to do other things. Maybe they are being active in another way. But we have to ask the schools and see what is being offered is what pupils want," she said.

"It is a challenge for our schools, as they all know the importance of sport. Many pupils though can still be engaged with the school but not playing sport.

"But what are those 200 pupils doing now? Some schools have increased, others have plateaued."

She said many sports were catering to different tastes. A new four-week volleyball competition had been introduced in Central Otago to cater for the interest in the sport, and had proved popular.

Many schools offered lots of different sports, with some schools having more than 30 available to play. So there was plenty of opportunities for pupils.

Handball has become popular; only starting in 2012, it now had nearly 150 players, and needed another gymnasium to play in.

Volleyball remained popular with girls.

Otago was still the second- highest region for participation. Only Wairarapa was higher, with 71%, but it only had eight secondary schools in its district.

Teacher involvement was high in Otago, at 40% of all teachers being involved in some way in sport at school, compared with the national average of 31%.

Coaching of sports by teachers was at 23%, compared with the national average of 17%.

Basketball was continuing to grow, and was the most popular sport in Otago for secondary school pupils. That popularity was helped by the fact it was played by both girls and boys, and a lot of it was played socially, on a Friday night.

Netball had decreased in numbers, with about about 10 teams dropping out from 2017. It was still a very popular sport, but rugby had moved above it last year, though it too had experienced a drop in numbers.

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