Sport Southland plays many roles in the Southland community, and one that is perhaps lesser known is our role as a funder or investor.
Locally we are charged with distributing the KiwiSport fund - a government fund designed to encourage more kids, more opportunities and better skills in sport.
Eighty per cent of the money we receive locally each year is put into in-school programmes (as per the extensive community consultation we carried out), and we traditionally have one application-based funding round a year for the remaining 20 per cent.
Since the KiwiSport fund was established in 2010, there have been more than 100 sport and recreation programmes funded and completed in Southland across multiple sports, impacting on more than 30,000 school-aged children.
We have just completed one funding round in March and still have about $20,000 to invest, so we have opened another round, with applications due by 5pm on Friday, June 27.
Ideally applications will be for programmes or initiatives aimed at getting more children aged 5 to 18 involved in organised sport, making sport more accessible and/or improving the skills of our young people.
While applications requiring sports equipment will be considered, it's likely they will be successful only if applicants can show how that equipment will lead to a direct increase in the number of children involved in sport.
Anecdotally we've heard some very positive stories stemming from the contestable KiwiSport funding, which is hugely encouraging.
The traditional Maori sport of Ki O Rahi, in particular, saw significant growth last year driven largely by KiwiSport and Sport Southland support. Nationally, Southland led the way, with the biggest number of secondary school participants in the sport across New Zealand.
As well as supporting what you might call our traditional sports to increase their reach and participation rates, KiwiSport funding has also helped minority sports such as surfing, archery and table tennis to increase their exposure in schools and communities this past year.
This has also had a positive impact on the number of young people taking part in those sports in both formal competitions and informal opportunities.
And those types of outcomes - those that focus on more kids, more opportunities and better skills - are exactly what the fund is designed to achieve.
We welcome applications from schools (primary and/or secondary), sports clubs, community organisations and regional sports organisations. I would encourage anyone applying to think about how your project is likely to impact young Southlanders in sport.
Check out our website for more details, application criteria and forms: sportsouthland.co.nz. Or feel free to call me to discuss your project and whether it fits the criteria and outcomes required.
Vanessa Hughey is community sport manager at Sport Southland.
- The Southland Times