AS I SEE IT (8 April) 

hockey nz olympics rio
By Terry O’Neill.

Professional sport centres on money. Who gets how much. 

And this is especially so in an Olympic year.

New Zealand hockey’s generous supporter Sir Owen Glenn has come out firing about Hockey New Zealand because it asked its current Olympic players to plead/beg sponsors for funds to finance the build-up to Rio. $12,000 has been bandied about as individual obligations. There are obvious questions. “What about Sport New Zealand’s high performance system? Doesn’t it allocate funds to sports?”  It does. But what  it doesn’t indicate is that the goose which lays the golden egg is light on eggs.

Consequently Sport NZ’s budget is reduced by a $4 million dollars through the fall in returns from lottery grants.

The government has come under criticism in spite of its investment of $62 million in High Performance Sport NZ, which in turn made funding decisions based on targeted performance results.  

Women’s hockey receives $1.3 million in High Performance funding with individual players receiving between $9000 and $20,000. Men’s hockey will get $700,000 from HPSNZ , a $300,000 drop from its previous level. The fall-off in support for national lotteries, and the absence of large payouts, has dimmed lottery buyers’ spending.

Meanwhile local rugby kicked off last Saturday with no red cards issued, a few yellow cards and no blue cards.

Blue cards? These could become part of local rugby if an innovation from the Northland Rugby Union is adopted nationally.

Head knocks and concussion are increasingly before the public. Northland introduced a system whereby a player who receives a head knock is asked a few questions by a team medic/physio and, if required, the referee then gives him a blue card which means that the player is effectively out of the game for 21 days. This has real merit.

rugby blue card front

rugby bvlue card back

Blue card front and back

Rugby opening day last weekend resulted in high scoring from Old Boys and Athletic Marist and an entertaining performance between Maheno and Kurow.  It may have been due to opening day collywobbles.

No match liaison officer was publicly named at the Stadium on Saturday, so supporters were kept in the dark over team or number changes making the provided programme far from accurate. That, combined with the lack of a Public Address system, meant that point scorers faced a bit of a lottery at that venue. At the Maheno Domain there was no such problem I believe, but at Weston no programme was available for supporters.

Not a good beginning.
I’ll excuse it because it’s the start of the season. But will rugby supporters?

ENDS

AS I SEE IT(4 March)

By Terry O’Neill.

What? Volunteers made redundant?

Volunteering is an integral New Zealand response whereby people selflessly offer services, skills and time for the benefit of others. Every community has people who do their bit with grace, skill and charm.

It can be a two-headed coin. Each volunteer gives to meet a particular need and is often surprised to receive a sense of accomplishment, fellowship, and contentment, the blessings of true generosity.

 A recent Oamaru Mail article on Girl Guides in North Otago suggested the national body is “revitalising”, whatever that means, so it can fulfil its goals of developing self-esteem, confidence and leadership, and a centralised business and administration arm will reduce the work of volunteers in these fields. But to maintain the national “ivory tower”, annual fees for each Girl Guide must be increased from $180 to $300, though in some cases there may be a decrease. Some local guide leaders believe the fees may push the movement into an elite club beyond the reach of many including loyal families with Girl Guide members throughout generations.

When former Prime Minister Rob Muldoon introduced the “think big” philosophy mixed results evolved, and now it appears some organisations which survived, and indeed grew, applied this philosophy in a very practical way. The Society for the Intellectually Handicapped (IHC), Save the Children (SFC) and Riding for the Disabled (RDA) are but three which experienced, and resisted in some cases, the nudges or heaves towards centralisation. Many local branches had a rich complement of competent volunteers before top-of-the-tower decisions effectively attempted to bypass this invaluable resource of experience and support. “Bigger would be better”. Maybe.

Centralisation appears to require paid “executives” whose salaries enable them to direct and organise the remaining, often disillusioned, volunteers. And this rejection of volunteer input ultimately affects the vitality and growth of local support for the national body and its dedicated services.

It’s a New Zealand “thing” to support financially what we believe to be worthy  organisations. I wonder how many find it offensive when a wealth of attractive glossy material regularly is sent out to squeeze even greater donations from already dedicated supporters of the institution?  Exactly how much of each regular donation contributes to such simplistic unsolicited expensive-looking material.  Many charities come to mind.  Surely regular voluntary subscribers could be spared this practice? Sincere volunteers and supporters are too valuable to be treated with disrespect.

Sports bodies are feeling the impact of a smaller volunteer base, and I don’t apologise for bringing this up again. Often loyal supporters hold positions of responsibility for long periods, and are the butts of criticism because nobody is willing to ‘step into their shoes’. Eventually, burnt out, the stalwarts eventually take their skills and drop off the code’s radar into oblivion.

In these days of semi-professional sport, there’re suggestions from some volunteers that those getting paid should do all the work!  But is this just a cop out?
    

ENDS

AS I SEE IT (29J)

bowls

By Terry O’Neill

Bowls North Otago successfully completed its women’s pentangular tournament last weekend involving Senior women and Development women from the five Centres south of Christchurch: South Canterbury, North Otago, Central Otago, South Otago and Southland.

Teams played singles, pairs, triples and fours on two greens in Oamaru in over 100 games superbly organised by Brian Papps and umpires, Bruce Kelly and Graham Thorn, and with cooperation from the other four centres. The senior womens section operated smoothly.

And the “But” . . . Unfortunately Southland and South Canterbury, neglected to provide essential details of their development womens teams, and listed names only with not an iota of information about team composition and skips. As the tournament began on the Saturday morning, umpires had the additional stress of seeking this information. Hopefully a robust message educated those centres on their basic responsibilities.

This scenario may be indicative of a sports administration trend in which even more is expected to be done by the responsible, declining few. It’s an unfettered malaise that has evolved over the four decades I have been associated with bowls and other sports .

Blame may rest at the feet of professionalism whereby the national bodies tend more to be concerned with promotion of those exclusives at the top of the food chain. In too many cases the roles of governance and management are clouded. Let’s hark back to the days of the late Arthur Familton who, as North Otago secretary, ran bowls with a very firm hand although some might agree his  “firm” might have been be a tad lenient. Governance is the aspect of the committee which decides policy, and management involves those appointed to apply that policy to their sport. The two have become integrated to the detriment of sport. Only time hopefully, and a change in attitudes will ensure a more favourable response to the tasks demanded of administrators.

Can you imagine dealing with a multitude of bowls results on scorecards attributed to Tom, Sandy, Jude, Margie, and the like? These do not identify the players to anyone outside the intimacy of the green so it would be appreciated if full names of skips and players are always recorded.

Meanwhile it’s time to celebrate local sport. The North Otago Sports Bodies annual Sportsperson of the Year function is early March at the Opera House. Once again over fifty individuals have been nominated by their respective sports over a wide range of codes ranging from equestrian horse cutting through to trap shooting, motorcross and downhill mountain biking. Coaches are acknowleged too with Narcis Gherca (swimming), Owen Gould (Rowing), Ray Boswell (trap shooting and hockey),and Hamish McMurdo (cricket/rugby refereeing).

The traditional award for Administrator of the Year may be now be  covered by the Services to Sport award. Sports administration is often a thankless task.

Let’s salute these behind-the-scenes sports people who make things happen. Without their fastidious care, knowledge, humour and leadership, sports could not function.

ENDS