A broader range of sports will be eligible for funding under the new strategy

More sports will be in line to receive a slice of the funding pie from next year as part of High Performance Sport NZs new funding strategy.
The government agency on Thursday announced the introduction of a new $27.6 million Aspirational Fund, separate from its allocation of targeted investment fund, which will see a broader range of sports eligible for funding.
The initiative was among a range of new strategies unveiled on Thursday at the launch of High Performance Sport NZs 2024 strategy.
The Aspirational Fund will open up opportunities for a wider range of sports with the potential to inspire New Zealanders through their performances or where we can work with them to improve podium potential, says chief executive Michael Scott, who will depart the organisation next month.
The Tall Blacks have long been left out in the cold when it comes to high performance funding.
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Our highly targeted funding model has delivered significant success and remains in place, but we are confident that we can now support a broader range of sports to achieve results that inspire New Zealanders.
High Performance Sport NZs highly selective targeted funding model, which rewards sports that have succeeded in the past and can demonstrate they have the talent to continue that success, has left many sports out in the cold over the last decade.
Among the sports regularly snubbed is basketball one of New Zealand’s biggest participation sports leading to increasing criticism from both fans and administrators, who claimed the funding model created a systematic bias, doing little more than punish losing programmes and reinforcing winning ones.
The inclusion of non-traditional sports like sport climbing and surfing in upcoming Olympic cycles has also forced High Performance Sport NZ to take a more nimble approach to its funding model.
High Performance Sport NZ chief executive Michael Scott.
The New Zealand context is changing, says Scott. We are seeing demographic changes, new trends in the way people engage with sport and many of the nations next stars are making their mark in sports that have yet to capture the nations full attention.
Scott also announced the move from a one-year funding allocation to a four-year guarantee.
High Performance Sport NZs targeted funding model, in which core investment was revisited annually, has been criticised for overwhelmingly prioritising short term performance goals above athlete welfare and building sustainability.
The move to four-yearly guarantee will give national sports organisations greater security, and remove the noose around the neck of coaches as described by the one high performance coach in Stephen Cottrell’s 2018 review of elite athlete rights and wellbeing.
The longer-term funding strategy is among a number of wellbeing initiatives introduced in the new strategy.
Southland Sharks supporters cheer on their team during a National Basketball League game against Canterbury Rams. Basketball is often snubbed for funding.
Future funding of elite sport will be contingent upon national sports organisations meeting athlete welfare obligations an initiative officials hope will drive a step-change in the culture of high performance environments following a spate of high-profile reviews.
The move means will now have the mechanisms to revoke funding of a programme if it deems the sport is not providing a safe and healthy environment for athletes and coaches.
Over the past three years the government agency has been forced to mop up scandal after scandal, with bullying complaints surfacing in cycling, hockey, womens football, and, more recently, canoe racing.
The past few years have seen HPSNZ and a number of sports grappling with wellbeing issues, as have other countries around the world. We have acknowledged as a system that we must and will do better, and we believe the wellbeing and engagement initiatives included in our 2024 strategy will enable wellbeing to be effectively prioritised as a performance advantage, says Scott.
Canoe racing is one sport beset by internal problems.
The inclusion of athlete wellbeing measures in funding criteria will be coupled with the introduction of objective measures to monitor wellbeing in high performance environments for each sport.
Scott says other key athlete wellbeing initiatives include support for effective athlete and coach voice mechanisms, Know the Line training for coaches, and the establishment of eight new wellbeing manager roles in identified national sports organisations.
The new strategy also attempts to address the impact of inequality in the system by providing greater accessibility. High Performance Sport NZ will establish a new performance hub in South Auckland.
We believe this will help provide access to high performance sport for a more culturally diverse mix of athletes. It will also remove the need to travel to existing performance hubs on the North Shore or in Cambridge, says Scott.
Key elements:
Funding and Investment
– New aspirational fund of $27.6 million (between 2022-24) to enable investment in a broader range of sports
– Move from annual funding rounds to a four yearly guarantee
– Increase direct financial support for athletes from $6.74m to $11.82 annually
Wellbeing and engagement
– Introduction of wellbeing criteria for investment decisions
– New wellbeing manager roles in identified national sports organisations
– Introduction of objective measures to wellbeing in national sports organisations
Performance pathways
– Flexibility (where appropriate) for NSOs to employ or contract their own practitioners
– Increase of up to 55 talent identification and confirmation coaches
– Establishment of South Auckland performance hub increasing access for this community