Sports clubs need help: survey

Photo: ODT files.
Photo: ODT files.
A national survey of sports clubs is painting a grim picture of the road ahead. Nearly a third of clubs are shrinking, clubs from traditional sports are unlikely to be back to normal quickly, while the only clubs which are growing are big already.

More than 1100 clubs responded to a national sports club survey run by the NZ Amateur Sport Association and the Sport Performance Institute NZ, which is based at AUT in Auckland. The survey covered clubs from 80 sports and from all 17 regions of New Zealand.

The survey showed more sports clubs are losing money in 2020 (11%) than were in 2019 (5%).

A higher proportion of clubs connected to New Zealand’s most traditional sports like rugby, cricket and netball report being “hit hard" by the impact of Covid-19 (15%) compared to other team sports (6%), primarily individual sports (4%) and racket sports (3%).

Fewer clubs from traditional sports indicate they will “shortly be back to normal" (31%) compared to other team sports (46%), primarily individual sports (49%) and racket sports (56%). Fewer Auckland sport clubs anticipate being shortly back to normal (38%) than other regions of the country (up to 65%).

A minority of sport clubs received Covid-19 financial relief. More than two-thirds of sport clubs report receiving no financial support from central or local government.

Those who did receive funds reported an average of $6100.

More than 75% of sport clubs reported no support from a regional or national sporting organisation. Most of those that did reported receiving $1000.

Sports club representatives were asked to rate how helpful sports organisations at regional and national levels were, as well as local and central government, in relation to Covid-19. Overall, a mostly neutral perspective of “helpfulness" was reported, but local councils were perceived as being significantly less helpful.

The survey also showed sports club membership is shrinking around the country. The average membership of a sport club in New Zealand has decreased from more than 200 in 2018 to 190 in 2019 and now 175 in 2020. This corresponds with an increase from 22% of clubs reporting membership shrinking in 2018 to 30% in 2020.

Digging deeper, it emerged again that in 2020, smaller clubs are shrinking further and most clubs that are growing are already large.

NZASA chairman Gordon Noble-Campbell was aware of the significant operational challenges facing sports clubs in 2020.

"In the wake of the pandemic, the normal environment for community sport has been severely disrupted, with the financial impact of reduced income from all sources likely to increase pressure on club volunteers to make ends meet", he said.

AUT project co-leader Michael Naylor said Covid-19 had “significantly impacted" New Zealand’s sports clubs and more comprehensive support from both sports organisations and the public sector was required.

"Those sports with mostly smaller clubs must urgently explore innovative operational models for ongoing viability,’’ Naylor said.

The Government announced a $265 million package to assist all of sport through the pandemic in May and has set up two rounds of community resilience funds for sports clubs and organisations to help them stay afloat and then cover operating costs.


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