Wairarapa likes to see itself as a sporty province but the number of children participating in the major sports is on the decline.
A recent Sport Wellington Wairarapa report charts a steady drop over the past few years at a junior level in hockey and netball, while rugby has bolstered its participation figures in recent seasons by including all those students involved in one-off school Rippa Rugby tournaments.
Since 2005 when Hockey Wairarapa had around 1350 junior players on its books, that number has dropped to around 1025 last year. Netball has experienced a similar decline with around 1100 junior players participating in 2006 dropping to around 850 last year. The Wairarapa Football Association recorded increased participation since 2007 peaking around 690 in 2009 and then dropping back to 490 in 2010 which is due largely to a restructure of the Wairarapa Wellington club structure. There were no figures available for last year.
Sport Wellington Wairarapa community sport adviser Mark Curr says the drop off in the main targeted sport participation is a nationwide trend, due mainly to the increased number of other sports vying for members.
'There's more competition than ever before and there are a number of trends that are contributing to that,' says Mr Curr.
He suggests clubs can do a lot to retain members and keep their clubs strong. He points to an example of how Masterton Red Star Rugby Club nearly tripled their junior membership in recent years, thanks to the strong leadership of a few key leaders in the club. He says the three key areas clubs need to concentrate on are planning, customer focus and governance.
Other sports in Wairarapa have remained strong. The number of members belonging to Swim Wairarapa peaked in 2009 with around 425 members and this figure has dropped back slightly to 380 swimmers registered last year. Tennis and athletics have also been registering strong numbers in recent years.
The Sport Wellington Wairarapa report says a change in funding allocations has negatively impacted the ability of some schools to support sports co- ordinators so Sport Wellington Wairarapa has invested in Makoura College and Solway College to retain sports co-ordinators to ensure they are not disadvantaged.
A primary/intermediate Regional Sport Plan has been adopted by the Masterton Primary School Principals Association with part of the plan including a part- time position to increase the quality and number of events and children participating in sport.
- Wairarapa News