WaiBOP warns council proposal will cause big drop in football participation

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WaiBOP Football say proposed fee increases by the Tauranga City Council will push up the sport’s costs by more than $600,000 and will lead to a “significant drop” in participation.

The federation has made written submissions to the council, urging it to rethink its Long Term Plan proposals.

WaiBOP’s chief executive Karyn Walters says in the submissions:

“With 300 games per season and 4,996 players in Tauranga alone, the proposed fee model for training, matches, and clubrooms will significantly impact all players and their whānau, who account for around 10% of the population of Tauranga.

“Due to the significance of the fee proposed, it is possible that this may impact all 15,600 players in the wider Waikato-Bay of Plenty region.

“Research shows that nationally, cost is one of the top barriers to sport participation.

“So far, cost has not been one of the top barriers for sport participation in Bay of Plenty.

“However, WaiBOP Football believes this will change with the introduction of the proposed fee model, which we expect will introduce costs in excess of $600,000 per year for football alone.

“It will make the cost of playing football prohibitive and lead to a significant drop in participation.”

The federation has asked to make verbal submissions to the council at hearings in February to consider proposals in the Long Terms Plan covering 2024-2034.

The 12-page written submission spells out in detail who plays the sport, in what numbers and how the costs of participation impact on the community.

Links Ave … the home of Tauranga City.

WaiBOP quotes the example of Tauranga City who recently calculated the proposed fee model will bump up their annual costs by $136,450 for proposed training, match and lease fees.

“If spread across the (club’s) 159 senior players, this is an additional $858.18 each, on top of the existing affiliation fees,” Walters writes.

“Spread across their total club membership of 650 players, including 356 junior players, it is an additional $209.92 on top of current affiliation fees.

“In total, we expect the proposed fees will be in excess of $600,000 in costs across all our Tauranga-based clubs.”

READ MORE: Tauranga City push back on council plans for huge hike in sports service fees >>>>

‘A significant decline if this proposal goes ahead’

Walters argues that if clubs redirect income to pay increased council fees, other areas will suffer.

“Funding will be redirected from supplying necessary equipment such as balls, bibs, and cones, plus uniforms, nets, coaches, and support for player development.

“This in turn, will lead to a decline in the experience for players.

“Consequently, WaiBOP Football expects there to be a significant decline in player numbers over 2024-25 if this proposal goes ahead.”

WaiBOP’s submission includes evidence of the benefits to the community of sport participation, including health, wellbeing (social, economic, environmental and cultural), and life skills.

The submissions point out the negative impact when people drop out of sport.

“International research shows that youth players who drop out of team sport experience significantly higher levels of amotivation, lower levels of intrinsic motivation, and low satisfaction of basic psychological needs (i.e., autonomy, competence, and relatedness), compared to those who continued team sport participation.”

WaiBOP Football chief executive Karyn Walters.

‘It’s certainly not fair …’

In her conclusion, Walters writes:

“The slogan on the front page of the Long Term Plan 2024-34 Summary document is “Investing in our future, making things fairer, doing the mahi”.

“The proposed fees do not align with this at all. The current proposal will take investment away from the future of sport, especially our tamariki and rangatahi,

“it is certainly not fair, and will take away from our mahi of delivering football with the significant time and resource needed to go into the administration to manage this.

“The proposal is of a magnitude that it could potentially impact all football players across the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

“While we accept in principle there needs to be a fee for the use of sports fields, we do not support the proposed fee model.

“The training fee, with a reduced hourly rate and as a seasonal rate based on one week of usage, is reasonable.

“The match fees and increase in lease fees are excessive, unrealistic, and inconsistent with councils in other cities.

‘We strongly urge (the council) to reconsider’

WaiBOP have included detailed comparison of what different councils charge for sports ground fees throughout the country.

These include Auckland City and Christchurch City whose councils charge no fees.

Walters says: “We strongly urge TCC to reconsider the proposed hourly rate, per match fee model, and the proposed increase in lease and operating expenses.

“Instead, consider protecting zero fees, like in Auckland and Christchurch.

“It is rare and something to celebrate, helping keep sport participation accessible for the community.”

READ MORE: Download WaiBOP Football’s submissions in full >>>>>

Council: ‘We think it’s fairer …’

The proposed increases are in a section of the council’s plan headed: ‘Sports fields and boat ramps. Should users pay to play?’

The council says it can either “continue to dip into our income from general ratepayers to cover the increasing running costs, or we could increase some user fees and charges.

“We think it’s fairer that those who directly generate a need for, and gain the highest benefit from a service, pay a larger share of the running costs of that service. ”

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