Lauren Boyle wants more funding for athletes, less for 'managerial resources'

Lauren Boyle says New Zealand's sporting culture has yet to go global.
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Lauren Boyle says New Zealand's sporting culture has yet to go global.

Lauren Boyle says rather than highlight a lack of funding, a spotlight could be shone on sporting bodies instead.

Swimming New Zealand suffered a significant financial reduction for 2017 in a move partly linked to an injury-hindered Boyle - who had been the key figure in keeping notable funding for the sport afloat for a number of years prior - falling short of her best at last year's Rio Olympics.

With High Performance Sport New Zealand placing a funding emphasis on the ability to produce results at the highest level, Swimming NZ saw their cut of government coffers take a chop from $1.3 million a year to about $900,000.

Boyle, who ended her career with five world championship medals, said funding to get swimmers to the top was a complex issue.

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"It can be done on no money - a good kid with a lot of talent can come up through the ranks in high school and get a scholarship to the US if they want to," Boyle said.

"Once you rank 12th in the world in your individual event you're eligible for a Peg [Performance Enhancement Grant] from High Performance Sport New Zealand. 

"That's all around individual athlete funding. If you go on to the High Performance Sport New Zealand funding model, is that flawed?

"The concept's good, there has to be a pyramid structure. The money comes from High Performance Sport NZ into the NSOs [National Sporting Organisations] and if there are problems at the NSO level, like a lack of quality managers or decision-makers, then, I don't know, maybe there's problems there."

Boyle believes it's a question of balance.

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"If you don't cut the coaching resource, then do you cut the admin side? Is the coaching resource good enough?

"NZ sporting bodies seem to have the knack of building an infrastructure that serves the institution at the very least as well as it serves the customers, who are the athletes.

"In my opinion, you cut managerial resources, not the pool-deck interface, but that's hard to do."

Boyle also feels an insular approach from Kiwis hinders the sport.

"I guess we're not a better swimming nation because the sporting culture hasn't really gone global.

"Even though the world is so small now, in terms of technological reach, at a sporting level, New Zealand is pretty insular. The daily sports news gives pretty good insight into that culture. Team sports are more prized than solo sports. I think the New Zealand sports media has almost an excluding mentality of that," Boyle said.

"I don't watch too much TV, but if I turn on the nightly news and see sports coverage it's, you know, Andrew Saville with his three rugby stories. It's usually dominated by regional, and maybe some international, rugby. It's very narrow and I think that hurts other sports. Swimming is an extremely competitive global sport. I guess the editors aren't as interested and Kiwi families don't get exposed to it.

"People in New Zealand idolise our rugby players, a lot of people want to be great rugby players and that takes a lot out of the talent pool that could be great swimmers or other sportspeople.

"My ambition kinda came from watching Danyon Loader win his gold medals at the Olympics, so there was definitely an element of seeing that success from a fellow Kiwi.

"When there's no media coverage, there's no money. Imagine if Lydia Ko was a swimmer - it'd be a totally different thing."

 

 - Stuff

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