Kiwi sporting legend Jeff Wilson backs more emphasis on fun, less on winning in kids' sport

A move by leaders of the country's top five participation sports to stop negative experiences turning children away, has the backing of All Blacks great Jeff Wilson.

Sport NZ, New Zealand Cricket, NZ Football, Hockey NZ, Netball NZ and New Zealand Rugby have all signed a statement of intent to make significant changes to children's sport.

The message is clear; pressure to be competitive is ruining the enjoyment of playing sports, and Wilson agrees. He told Newshub the move was a positive "on so many different levels".

"I just want kids to grow up loving their sport and wanting to play it," he said. "Like I did, and still do.

"I don't like the thought of kids getting burned out, and getting sick of a sport. That to me, is so unnecessary - there shouldn't be a situation where that happens."

The five organisations will launch a marketing campaign in 2020 that will raise awareness of these issues among parents, coaches and administrators.

"I just think we just need to change the mindset," Wilson added. "We need to reset, because with so much emphasis on professional sports now - we've maybe lost what's important about watching kids growing up.

"It's about creating the right environment for kids to be out, be active and having fun.

"The more sports they'll play, the better they'll be.

"You don't get five sporting organisations coming together with the same philosophy unless there is a real issue."

The aims of the sporting leaders include: 

  • Ensuring all young people have a quality experience while playing sport, regardless of their skill level
  • Changing the attitudes and behaviours of coaches, administrators and parents who are involved in youth sport
  • Changing competition structures and opportunities for player development
  • Reviewing the way talent is identified in teenagers to make sure development opportunities are available to more young people
  • Supporting young people to play multiple sports
  • Raising awareness of the dangers of overtraining and overloading.