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Has New Zealand benefited from hosting three World Cups?

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Hosting three women’s world cups in the space of 18 months was considered a boost for women’s sport in New Zealand – even before a ball was bowled or tackle made.

Now that the cricket, rugby and football world cups are over, and the rest of the world has moved on, are Aotearoa’s female athletes any better off?

While the White Ferns failed to meet expectations at last year’s 50-over Cricket World Cup when they crashed out at the group stage, administrators were forced to focus on the women’s game.

Seven years ago New Zealand Cricket’s own research showed nearly 60 percent of clubs did not offer cricket for girls.

Suzie Bates heads back to the dressing room in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 against Australia in Wellington.Suzie Bates heads back to the dressing room in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 against Australia in Wellington. Photo: PHOTOSPORT
Auckland had one of the biggest club cricket competitions in New Zealand for women but at the end of last season 25 percent of surveyed female participants said they did not know if they wanted to return.

In response, Auckland Cricket revamped the premier women’s club competition for the upcoming season with new teams and new opportunities.

Auckland Cricket’s community manager of women’s and girls cricket Astrid van Uden said the main reason players considered leaving the sport was “they didn’t believe the playing opportunities that they wanted was available”.

van Uden said it was hoped the changes would help support the growth of the clubs that were focussed on women and girls.

“We’re hoping that this new structure is to going to entice some of these women to continue playing cricket and remove some of the barriers, like the barrier of time and commitment, and provide something that is competitive at the high level but then also playing opportunities at the other end of the spectrum as well.”

A new competition would also help with the growth of future White Ferns.

“To bridge the gap between our club competitions and our domestic competitions we’re introducing a new series called the Legends Cup and that will be our top club players and our academy players and potentially some of our Auckland Hearts players who will play in a six to eight game competition on a Sunday that provides more performance based playing opportunities and get more 18 to 24 year-olds playing at a higher level if they haven’t yet been selected into our Auckland academys.”

New Zealand celebrate with the trophy after winning the final. New Zealand Black Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby World Cup New Zealand 2021 (played in 2022) Grand Final match at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday 12 November 2022.The Black Ferns celebrate with the trophy after winning the Rugby World Cup final. Photo: www.photosport.nz / Andrew Cornaga
The Black Ferns won a sixth Rugby World Cup in November against a backdrop of accusations of poor culture under a coach ousted not long before the tournament kicked off.

As well as questions about the gap between resources for men’s and women’s rugby in New Zealand.

In April, New Zealand Rugby revealed an ambitious 10-year plan for women and girls in rugby and nearly $22 million targeted for 2023.

Promises included increased investment in high performance programmes, athlete welfare and wellbeing support.

NZR’s head of women’s rugby Claire Beard said six months into the new strategy playing numbers are up nearly 30 percent this season and more women were coaching and refereeing but they faced new challenges.

“We’re attracting women and girls to rugby which is the good part what we really need to focus in on now is making sure that the experience they are having when they’re with us is really great and we haven’t [previously] had a lot of targeted support on what creating great experiences for girls and women look like.

“When we’re taking women that are 11 to 13-years-old and 16 to 19-years-old and we’re bringing them into our game what does getting them rugby ready look like because we’ve never helped young women get rugby ready before in a really targeted way, we’ve normally focussed on those core skill development and accqusition happening with young boys.”

Beard noted that getting people on board with women in rugby was the “easy part” after the World Cup.

“I think the whole of rugby realised that women are an integral part of our future and I don’t just mean participants… the growth that we’re seeing in referees, coaches, the growth that we need to continue to see in leadership roles at both the governance and senior leadership team perspective these are all good things for rugby in general, that diversity of thought, new people, new ideas.”

Hannah Wilkinson of the Football Ferns v Norway, Group Stage-Group A match of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup at Eden Park, Auckland.Hannah Wilkinson of the Football Ferns in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup at Eden Park. Photo: photosport
Record crowds watched the recently concluded month-long FIFA World Cup in New Zealand and Australia.

Participation numbers were not a problem for New Zealand Football but finding somewhere for the growing numbers to kick the ball was.

New Zealand Football chief executive officer Andrew Pragnell believed they had done just about everything they could to capitalise on hosting the tournament and he was calling for back-up.

“There is going to need to be an increased focus from central government in that area [fields and facilities] or else we are going to have a situation in which kids are being turned away from sport because there is insufficient playing fields which is something I don’t think any Kiwi wants to see.”

Australia’s Federal Government invested $200 million in the improvement of sporting facilities and equipment specifically for women off the back of the success of the Football World Cup.

“Certainly like to see something similar relative to New Zealand’s population and size but I would like to see something similar matched for sure.”

After watching all three world cups, Beard said: “It feels like we’re on that precipice of something really different here”.

Women in Sport Aotearoa chief executive officer Nicky van den Bos said it was easy to focus on women’s sport when the big tournaments were on however the real test would be what happened next.

“At a really superficial level there’s a lot happening and we can see that there is a lot of momentum off the back of these events but it’s that really deep system change that will continue to drive long term behaviour change within sport.”

van den Bos wanted equity within sports organisations from governance, through to strategy and programmes and policy.

But also for minority sports not to be forgotten about.

Japan’s Akiyo Noguchi is a star of the sport climbing world.Climbing is a sport Nicky van den Bos believes could do with more recognition. Photo: AFP
“I think where the opportunity lies to really do more for women and girls is in that weren’t served through those tournaments, the second tier sports, that perhaps could do with a high profile international tournament either on our shore or nearby that builds the visibility and therefore drives interest in participating or viewing.”

van den Bos also saw a way for a broader impact.

“With the three tournaments that we’ve had here it’s really been about the focus in on high performance female organised sport but I think in terms of Aotearoa one of the opportunities we have to grow women and girls generally across sport is the shifting perceptions that sport isn’t the only option for activity or creating facility around individuals but actually there is other organised forms of recreation in terms of mountain biking and climbing and jogging and water-based activities where it is just as relevant to be participating for performing in those areas of organised activity.

“One of our options here is to focus that shift away from it’s just organised sport actually there is so much more that can celebrate women and girls in a different way.”

 

VIA RNZ

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Air NZ sorry for charging tourists $13,000 to change flight after terminal diagnosis

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Air New Zealand has admitted it made a mistake when it tried to charge two US tourists $13,000 to change their flights after one of them received a grave medical diagnosis.

Todd and Patricia Kerekes flew business class from New York to Auckland in January. The return tickets cost $37,500.

They intended to stay until April, but six weeks into their visit Patricia was diagnosed with cancer of the gallbladder. Their surgeon advised them to head home immediately, so Todd contacted Air NZ to have their flights moved up.

“Right away on the first call I told them my wife was gravely ill, and we were on holiday and we needed to go back home,” the 60-year-old told Checkpoint.

“And it was a whole series of long pauses, and I couldn’t tell whether they were conferring with co-workers or working at it on the computer, or what it was. But I would go through a whole series of 15- to 30-minute hold periods, and sometimes the people would come back and basically tell me something I didn’t want to hear, like it was gonna cost me NZ$13,000 to change my flight.”

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Housing Minister Chris Bishop sets ‘long-term’ price target of three to five times household incomes

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The new housing minister has set a target of having homes costing just three to five times household incomes – well below what they are now in most of New Zealand.

But Chris Bishop does not want too quick a fix to the country’s housing affordability crisis – saying a crash “tomorrow” would “cause enormous economic and financial instability to people”.

“What I want is for house prices to moderate over time, so that in 10 to 20 years’ time, we have essentially gone a long way towards solving our housing affordability problem,” he told Checkpoint on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day he outlined the first steps in his plan, saying most of the country’s biggest cities will be flooded with land for residential development.

In a speech delivered to Wellington’s Chamber of Commerce, Bishop confirmed councils will have to earmark 30 years’ worth of land for housing development.

They will be able to opt out of housing density rules that allow homes up to three stories high on most residential sites without the need for a consent – a bi-partisan rule that National signed up to in opposition. Instead, councils will be able to choose exactly where high density housing goes.

He also promised to make it easier to build granny flats or dwellings less than 60 square metres.

In his speech, Bishop said the status quo was costing the country the equivalent of 15 Transmission Gully motorways every four years “just on helping people to be housed”.

“The taxpayer subsidises rents for people in social housing, we pay for emergency housing grants, we pay for transitional housing, we help people with their bond payments and so it goes. A failure to reform housing has made it extremely expensive for government.”

And in a briefing to Cabinet, Bishop said housing affordability was arguably the single most pressing economic and social issue.

Speaking to Checkpoint, Bishop said New Zealand was not short of land, but rules “make it very difficult to use that land”.

“What we’re saying is we need to go out at the edge of our cities and we also need to go up inside our cities.”

Inside existing limits, Bishop said the coalition government would keep Labour’s policy of allowing up to six storeys “within walkable catchment areas of rapid transit stops”, and give councils more discretion over what areas had to allow up to three storeys.

Asked how councils would be prevented from pushing most of the intensification to certain suburbs and leaving others alone, he said: “There are natural limits on the intensification that would take place in suburbs. There are infrastructure limits, for example.

“But also, you know, over time suburbs will change and the nature of our cities will change. I mean, if you think about the Auckland CBD now, compared to say 50 years ago, it is much more dense, many more people live in apartments, they live in tower blocks in the CBD. The same is true to some extent of Wellington.

“But you know, the Wellington of today will look very different to the Wellington of 30 years’ time. Change will be gradual. It is not going to happen immediately, change will happen over many, many years.

“But what I am saying and what the government is saying is that we need more houses. We have an affordability problem in New Zealand and have done so for 30 years because we have designed a planning system that has made it very difficult to build more housing, and it is a social and economic problem we’ve simply got to grapple with.”

Pressed on how much he would like to see house prices drop, Bishop cited the internationally popular metric of prices to household incomes.

“In housing markets that we consider to be affordable, a house price to income ratio of between three and five is considered affordable. That’s not the case in most of our major cities right now.”

Current data shows that multiple nationwide is currently 6.6. In Auckland it is 8.1, Wellington 6.14, Christchurch 5.84, Hamilton 6.57 and Dunedin 5.7. In Queenstown-Lakes, the multiple is almost 15.

“Over time as you moderate house prices and incomes grow, [three to five] is what we would like to see things get to, but as I say, that is not going to happen immediately and it is not going to even happen in the next two to three or four years. This is something that has to happen in the medium- to long-term.

“And unless we do that, house prices will continue to go up and people will continue to be locked out of the housing market.

“I want house prices to be affordable, and a house price to income ratio of seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, in some cases 13 to one in some parts of New Zealand is not affordable, entrenching inequality and poverty in our cities.”

He refused to give an exact timeframe, saying that would be making the same mistake the Labour-led government did in claiming it could build 100,000 houses in 10 years.

“Land markets and the economy is much more complicated than that. What I am saying to you is that we have [an] extensive and comprehensive work programme based on evidence to make housing more affordable in the medium- to long-term.”

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Everton punishment reduced to six points

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Everton have had their points deduction for a breach of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules reduced to six points from 10 after an appeal, the club and the Premier League said on Monday.

Everton were docked points with immediate effect in November after being found to have breached profitability and sustainability rules (PSR) relating to losses.

“An independent Appeal Board has concluded that the sanction for Everton FC’s breach of the Premier League’s Profitability and Sustainability Rules (PSRs), for the period ending Season 2021/22, will be an immediate six-point deduction,” the Premier League said in a statement.

The original points deduction meant Everton dropped from 14th in the standings into the relegation zone with four points. The club filed an appeal against the initial deduction, which they labelled “wholly disproportionate and unjust”.

“Everton can confirm an Appeal Board has concluded that the points deduction imposed by an independent Premier League Commission in November be reduced from 10 points to six points, with immediate effect,” a club statement said.

The sanction was appealed on nine grounds, each of which related to the sanction, rather then the breach and two of those nine grounds were upheld by the Appeal Board.

Everton admitted to a breach of PSR for the period ending with the 2021-22 season, with their total losses for that period amounting to 124.5 million pounds according to an independent commission.

According to the Premier League’s Financial Fair Play regulations, clubs are permitted to lose a maximum of $216 million over a three-year period.

The Merseyside club recorded four straight wins after their deduction to climb up to 16th, but have been dragged back into the relegation battle following a run of nine league games without a victory.

The reduction means Everton move up to 15th in the standings with 25 points, five points above the relegation zone.

The club say they are still considering the wider implications of the decision and will make no further comment at this time.

Everton were then charged once again by the Premier League in January for a separate PSR breach, along with Nottingham Forest.

Everton players celebrate

Everton players celebrate Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Both clubs were referred to the chair of the Judicial Panel, the Premier League said, who will appoint an independent commission to determine the appropriate sanction, which may include a further deduction for the Sean Dyche-led club.

A second points penalty would increase risk of relegation and add to the uncertainty over the future of Everton, who are currently in the midst of protracted takeover talks with U.S. investment fund 777 Partners and also hoping to move to a new stadium ahead of the 2025-26 season.

BACKGROUND ON OTHER CLUBS

Last year, Manchester City were referred to an independent commission over more than 100 alleged breaches of finance rules since the club were acquired by the Abu Dhabi-based City Football Group in 2008.

No verdict has been reached in that case. Premier League CEO Richard Masters said last month that a date had been set for a hearing. City have denied any wrongdoing.

Clubs in England’s top flight have been docked points before.

Middlesbrough had three points deducted in 1997 when they failed to fulfil a fixture, while Portsmouth received a nine-point penalty in 2010 when the financially-troubled club entered administration.

-Reuters

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