Sport & recreation  |  21 Apr 2021

The move by the six winter sports codes to shorten the playing season for junior and youth sports is being welcomed by Christchurch City Council.

“Our Recreation and Sports team has worked with Sport Canterbury and the sporting codes on this initiative, which will ensure that children and young people who play both winter and summer sports get a breather between seasons,’’ says Council Recreation and Sports Services Manager David Bailey.

“As a Council we are very supportive of this move as it also means that we will have more time to prepare our playing fields for the winter and summer playing seasons.

“The short turn-around between summer and winter sports competitions has always been challenging, but with a later winter start and an agreed finish date, we will now have a renovation window in the autumn and spring to undertake sports field maintenance in preparation for the next season of play,’’ Mr Bailey says.

The summer sport season has traditionally ended in late March and winter sports have started in early April.

In a change to that arrangement, the organisations representing rugby, rugby league, football, netball, basketball and hockey have signed a Memorandum of Agreement that the winter season for junior and youth sport will start at the beginning of May. The winter playing season will end in the second week of September. 

While other regions are working towards similar agreements, Canterbury is leading the way by having the six major winter sports sign the Memorandum of Agreement with Sport Canterbury and the Council.

Sport Canterbury Chief Executive Julyan Falloon says the move by the sporting codes to align their seasons is about protecting the wellbeing of children.

“In lockdown, New Zealanders reflected on the value of balance and importance of taking time out for people of all ages,’’ Mr Falloon says.

“It’s easy to talk about the importance, but taking steps to promote balance and give kids a break from activity is another matter. We admire the Canterbury sports for stepping up and announcing what we believe is a first in the country.’’