Sport NZ's ultimatum to grassroots Kiwi sports

Kiwi sporting bodies have been put on notice.

They've been told to sign up to Sport NZ's campaign to discourage early specialisation - or lose their funding.

This major push to force a change to the grassroots approach to youth sport is something leading administrators feel has been ignored for too long.

Participation numbers in youth sport are dwindling and the organisation concedes it has to act.

The first step comes in stopping sports from telling kids they must specialise at an early age.

"It is serious," Sport NZ community general manager Geoff Barry told Newshub. 

"If we want to change the dialogue, then we have to use everything at our disposal and, really, investment is the biggest one that we have."

That means any organisation that fails to commit to the philosophy will have their funding slashed.

Martin Snedden is the project lead for New Zealand Cricket, which is one of five sporting bodies that's already signed up.

He believe's Sport NZ's hard-line approach is the right call.

"This is long overdue," said Snedden. "And I think it's one of the biggest shake-ups that youth sport will have had in New Zealand."

But it's not new for one of our most popular sports. Netball has long led the way in reducing early specialisation and they're already seeing the benefits.

"What we're seeing is there's over 700 more kids every year that are having an opportunity to keep participating at that age group," said Netball NZ chief executive Jennie Wyllie.

National sporting organisations aren't dashing kid's aspirations of reaching sport's summit, but are urging them to think about the bigger picture instead.

"You are not a Silver Fern at 10 or 12 years old," says Wyllie.

It's a clear message to help combat an ongoing issue in New Zealand sport.

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