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Youth Summer and Winter sporting seasons are set to align

Tomas Rice
youth sport
Youth sport  Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

The change will provide kids with a clear gap between finishing one season and starting the other.

Twelve Canterbury sporting codes, along with Christchurch City Council, School Sport Canterbury, and Primary Sport Canterbury have all signed a Memorandum of Agreement to allow this to happen.

These included the Canterbury Rugby Union, Mainland Football and Canterbury Cricket.

The MOA, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, will allow for true Winter and Summer seasons.

Junior and youth winter competitions won’t start before 30 April and won't go beyond 4 September.

Participating Summer competitions will start on 15 October and end by 25 March.

The sporting codes raised risks that the agreement will look to combat, such as the quality of experience for athletes and volunteers, along with participation numbers.

The agreement has also highlighted the leadership of Canterbury sports and their commitment to Sport New Zealand’s Balance is Better philosophy.

Balance is Better is an evidence-based philosophy to support quality sport experiences for all young people, regardless of ability, needs or motivations.

Sport Canterbury’s Sport Development Advisor, Mike Peacock, who led this initiative, said there were four key issues in junior and youth sport that sparked the change.

“Overlapping seasons, which result in little to no recovery and less flexibility for young people to commit to playing multiple sports, young people specialising too soon, increased workloads resulting in burnout, and the rate of overuse injuries and overload.”

Canterbury Sport said they also saw a decrease in volunteer numbers, potentially due to being overworked.

They said the benefits of aligning the seasons were numerous.

The change will allow Christchurch City Council to have more time to prepare and maintain sport fields between competitions.

Council Head of Recreation, Sports and Events Nigel Cox said in the vital Spring renovation period, the ideal time to undertake remediation and renovation work was between six to eight weeks.

“Previously a staggered start/finish to the respective Winter and Summer codes’ seasons meant that this window wasn’t available.”

Cox said with the new season format, the council could now be more efficient with the resources required to maintain sports fields to a community sports standard for players of all codes.

“Ultimately the decision about timing of the seasons is better for everyone playing sport in Christchurch.”

Injuries and burnout among players will look to be reduced with a longer break post-season.

It will allow families to have more downtime, which gives the participants the chance to prepare for each new season.

The change will give young people more flexibility to play multiple sports.

Peacock said having a clear break between Winter and Summer seasons made the transition between playing both these sports much more manageable.

“We also hope that all aspects of this change positively impact volunteer coaches, officials and administrators, who likewise suffer burnout and fatigue as a result of workload and conflicting long seasons.”

The winter season started a couple of weeks ago.