The Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards are open for the fourth year; celebrating, recognising and acknowledging play, active recreation and sport organisations, initiatives and people in the Waikato region.
“2022 saw a record number of nominations and some outstanding initiatives, coaches and volunteers from around the region,” said Matthew Cooper, CEO of Sport Waikato. “The level of initiatives focused on quality experiences that are growing participation is absolutely incredible.”
The 2023 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards encourage nominations from those in the community who go above and beyond to deliver programmes and initiatives that meet the needs of the participant and create a more active region. Alongside the initiatives are Community Coach and Community Unsung Hero categories which always attract a large number of quality nominations. 
“We’re really amazed by all those creating initiatives that are aimed at participation – last year we had community programmes supporting young people to be more active, stories of change from the traditional sporting models, programmes aimed at diversity and inclusion and wonderful stories from schools doing things differently to keep our tamariki active in a way that’s positive and fun,” said Cooper.
“And with that the quality of community coaches who are providing a great experience and our wonderful volunteers who are the backbone of sport and active recreation in our region.”
And this year there is a new category – Outstanding By Youth For Youth Initiative for those young people leading or co-designing opportunities.
The categories are:

  • Community Connection Award: Celebrating those individuals or organisations that have created physical activity initiatives that respond to the needs of the community and its participants. This award is designed to recognise those who are working hard to understand their communities and tailor their offerings to help break down barriers to participation, putting participant experience at the heart of decision-making, and using physical activity to create connection in the community to bring people together.
  • Sport & Active Recreation Partnership Award: Celebrating collaboration and the coming together of key organisations to leverage outcomes for the betterment of play, active recreation and sport opportunities and experiences. This award is for councils, community, sport or recreation organisations, iwi, schools or any other organisations who have partnered with others to provide sport and active recreation opportunities to their communities.
  • Outstanding Active Space Initiative: The innovative use of spaces such as community halls, parks, gullies, rivers, skateparks - wherever a space has been used to help people be active! This can be those that have developed the space, or those that run initiatives or programmes using the space.
  • Commitment to Accessibility and Inclusion: Programmes or initiatives that are making physical activity opportunities accessible, welcoming and inclusive to meet the needs of marginalised groups, women/girls, ethnic minority groups, or cultural/religious groups to enable those people to be more active.
  • Community Unsung Hero: We’re looking for those people in your community that help make play, active recreation and sport happen – those who have given their time during the nomination period to provide opportunities, create change and support participation in a volunteer capacity. Maybe they’ve been instrumental in increasing numbers at your club, provided their expertise at the governance table to support the organisation’s direction, they might have lead initiatives, or provided their professional services at no cost to help something great happen. 
  • Community Coach: Nominate a community coach who demonstrates commitment to meeting the needs of the people they coach, for their ability to create positive team culture, provide participation and development opportunities for all players, and promote the spirit of the game - encouraging fair play and commitment to Balance is Better/Good Sports principles over winning.
  • Commitment to Youth Engagement: Nominate an individual or initiative that supports youth participation in physical activity to grow the number of children and young people engaging in play, active recreation or sport, and reverse participation drop-off. Initiatives may be in the areas of play, active recreation or sport and can be targeted at any age group from early childhood through to young adults (age range 0-24).
  • Outstanding By Youth For Youth Initiative: Initiatives or programmes predominantly run by youth for the benefit of young people. These can be initiatives co-designed alongside adults but that are lead by young people 24 years and under.
Nominations are now open for the 2023 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards and close on 5pm, Friday 29 September 2023. 
This year, all nominees will be judged and finalists invited to a special event in February 2024 (date tbc), where winners will be announced. 
To nominate go to
View last year’s winners at
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Nominations are open for the 2023 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards

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