Sport New Zealand must be smart with finite cash

JACOB PAGE
Last updated 05:00 22/12/2012

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OPINION: Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing.

Never has that been more true than with Sport New Zealand's latest round of High Performance funding initiatives.

It is a difficult job, as there is simply not enough money to go around from the government funding agency.

The Government-funded agency's main objective is to support potential Olympic medallists and world championship hopefuls - sounds logical.

A Sport New Zealand spokesperson on Thursday confirmed not one of the sports got the funding it was after and if Sport New Zealand was to have granted every sport its wish, it would have needed twice the $31 million a year it had to play with.

It is easy to make a case that sport at all levels is grossly under-funded in New Zealand, especially given the huge role it plays in almost everyone's lives.

The performance-for-pay initiative is a sound model, given the lack of funds to play with but it can be a brutal beast as cricket and swimming are now finding out.

Individuals have also been grouped together for the first time and the move does open up Sport New Zealand for some criticism.

It is questionable whether teenage golf sensation Lydia Ko will need a $200,000 hand-out in the long run. Ko fits the bill in terms of her accomplishments as No 1 women's amateur golfer in the world, but perhaps a loan system could be used.

Once the 15-year-old has turned professional and made a lot of money, and that seems to be a case of when, not if, she could pay back the $200,000 and it could be re-invested in someone else.

She may need the cash now, and that's understandable but in 10 years time, $200,000 will be chump-change once she wins events and earns endorsement deals.

In comparison to places like Britain and Australia who target the same core sports as New Zealand, the funding allocated the top-level sport is very small.

It seems New Zealand will have to get smarter with the money it invests and I think Sport New Zealand is on the right track in most areas.

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- The Timaru Herald

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