OPINION: The national secondary schools data for participation for 2012 has been collated and Southland have had the most successful results in the country.
The percentage of student participation (which means playing sport for their school) increased from 60 per cent in 2011 to 65 per cent in 2012 - or 250 more students involved in sport.
Nationally the next highest percentage increase is 2 per cent.
Southland is in the top four regions nationally for student participation. Southland schools last year tried to increase participation through various strategies.
Many offered sports activities during lunchtimes and after school to reduce the need for transport and eliminate costs.
Other strategies included focusing on developing specified sports and increasing resources and expertise for those sports.
The school sports co-ordinators in many cases can be commended on their efforts in co-ordination and organisation.
Schools also are required to have an annual sports plan with specified targets for the year. I feel this has helped give schools direction and focus.
Ten schools in Southland increased their participation for 2012.
James Hargest, Northern Southland College and Verdon College increased by more than 10 per cent.
Central Southland and Southland Boys also had significant increases.
Other information collated by the national schools census is staff involvement in schools sport. Southland is in the top seven regions for schools staff involvement in sport.
Total staff involvement in sport dropped from 31 per cent in 2011 to 29 per cent in 2012 .
Teaching staff involved in sport and specifically coaching has increased by 2 per cent to 37 per cent and is above the national average of 34 per cent.
Obviously with an emphasis on increasing student involvement in sport, a focus for schools is to get more staff and community members assisting with sport in the roles of coaches, managers and officials.
Sport Southland and Secondary School Sport are also wanting to encourage this and we intend to offer several generic coaching and managers workshops for anyone interested in becoming a coach or manager.
The student coaching programme Invest in Sport will also be offered to students interested in coaching, with registration information being sent to schools.
For 2013 the emphasis will be on maintaining our student involvement and aiming for an increase in not only student involvement in sport, but also staff and community involvement in secondary school sport.
- The Southland Times