Good Sports® messaging was introduced into the format of the Putaruru Junior Touch competition to help support the community in keeping the competition fun and focused on the players having great experiences, learning and developing at their own rate.
The Good Sports® initiative aims to create positive sporting experiences for Kiwi kids by supporting and educating the key adult influencers in children’s sport: parents, caregivers, coaches, teachers and sport leaders.
Putaruru Junior Touch introduced new ways to celebrate the players with weekly spirited player awards. Selected by the opposition, this award is for players who showed enjoyment, effort, improvement and the ability to connect with others throughout their match.
The Te Ruru Spirited Trophy was also introduced and is awarded to the team (players, coaches, managers and supporters) who displayed a number of attributes including supportive sideline behaviour, recognising and celebrating effort and trying, including everyone, with unconditional support and empowering the kids to be involved with decisions.
The challenge was in getting coaches in the room together to fully understand the concept, with upwards of 45 teams in the competition from year 1 to year 8, and ensuring that all coaches were well informed on the purpose of the new awards and the aim of what the club was aiming to achieve.
It was decided that information would be provided to all coaches in a coaching pack which included the weekly spirited player certificates (including a free voucher entry to the local pool instead of food related incentives), background information on the process of the weekly awards and the trophy, as well as the Good Sports® Spine which highlights the ‘climate of development’. The climate of development supports parents and coaches understanding of how to encourage athletes by inspiring them to do better and learn through their mistakes, provide opportunities to connect with team mates and make new friends and empower them to share their ideas on how to improve their learning through game play and a wide variety of experiences.
To support the community to develop an awareness of the Good Sports climate of development, a large Good Sports ‘A frame’ sign was provided to be on display with key messages on how to support their experience through the five ‘needs of the child’ and five ‘top tips’.
Continued communication via email and conversations from Sport Waikato staff members during game time helped challenge the ‘accepted norm’ of sideline comments from some parents and coaches, and a Good Sports® forum was hosted in the build up to the first week of game play. This forum was well received by those that attended and was followed with a coaching session to support fundamental development in the game of touch.
There has been an increased awareness of the climate of development within the Putaruru community, with members actively role modelling the attitudes and behaviours associated.
The Putaruru Junior Touch competition is a well-established and well organised event for the youth of Putaruru to engage in positive sporting experiences. The Good Sports® philosophy provided an opportunity to continue the great work the KiwiSport officer is doing, ensuring that a love for being active and involved in sport is nurtured by the community.
Deeper understanding to the wider community will further support a stronger shift in behaviours through all sport, recreation and active play for the youth of Putaruru with further support and embedding planned for the community in 2020.