Coach accreditation on agenda for Sport NZ

17:51, Feb 23 2013
Alex Baumann
ALEX BAUMANN: The High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive says mandatory accreditation for coaches working with elite athletes is "worth investigating".

High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Alex Baumann will investigate reintroducing mandatory accreditation for coaches working with elite athletes.

Last week the Sunday Star-Times revealed expert concerns over the number of top athletes working with underqualified sport scientists.

Sport and Exercise Science New Zealand chairwoman Dr Sally Lark is calling for compulsory accreditation to be reintroduced after the defunct New Zealand Academy of Sport abolished it three years ago.

Lark told the Star-Times that SESNZ, which used to be the Crown's sport funding distributor before the Hillary Commission and Sparc (now Sport New Zealand), encounters "a lot of people with a little bit of knowledge who don't have the background to make informed decisions for their athletes".

Saying she would be "not confident at all" in unaccredited sport scientists, Lark pointed to Great Britain's high performance structure, which demands all coaches carry official accreditation.

Baumann said he was confident in the quality of New Zealand's elite staff, but confirmed he was in talks with Lark and the matter was worthy of investigation.

Baumann, who has previously been a top sports administrator in Canada and Australia, said he had seen accreditation systems that worked, but also some that did not yield significant benefit.

"I've been in different countries and sometimes accreditation works. Sometimes it doesn't add a lot of value," Baumann told the Star-Times.

"I've has some conversations with Sally Lark and I think it's worth investigating. But, it has to add value, it can't just be a mechanism for collecting dollars."

Baumann said HPSNZ applicants were subject to a strict process before being hired, including multiple interviews, police, reference and qualification checks and also psychometric testing.

Baumann said the thoroughness of that screening process could negate the need for accreditation.

"We do have very high standard in quality assurance," he said.

"When we recruit it's based on high-spec job descriptions, knowledge and experience. Applications have been extremely competitive over the last two years and there's been a robust selection process."

Baumann said cost would also be an element of the decision.


Sunday Star Times