date_range Published 12 Feb 2018

According to the New Zealand Secondary School Sports Council (NZSSSC) figures just released, basketball is now the third largest sport in New Zealand secondary schools, overtaking football since 2016. Should the trend continue, basketball will become the number one New Zealand secondary schools sport by the year 2020.

In 2017 a total of 25,649 secondary school students played basketball*. Netball holds the number one spot with 28,455 players. Rugby holds the number two spot with 26,951 players. 

Of the top 10 participation sports, basketball continues to be the outlier for growth. The sport has increased a significant 11% in one year. Over the last five years, basketball has continued its trend of increasing by 27%. The next fastest-growing sport is volleyball, at 13% growth over five years and a total of 17,693 participants. Other more traditional sports have been dropping over that five year trend (Netball -2%, Rugby Union -6% and cricket -8%).
Basketball New Zealand Chief Executive, Iain Potter, says the organisation has been working hard to provide more opportunities to meet the increasing demand.

“This is a good problem to have and not a revelation – basketball has been growing rapidly for years now. We also know that we can do a lot more. For example, we are working with our associations to try and increase girls’ participation. We want to bump that figure up. In 2017 we had 7985 secondary school girls playing and 17,664 boys. There’s a great opportunity for us to balance that out with more female participation.

“Overall the combined figure will likely jump again because we’ve also added more tournaments that focus more on participation than national titles. We’ve added two new tournaments this year for schools wanting a quality tournament experience, but who are not attempting to qualify for nationals,” said Mr Potter.

Mr Potter says the growing pains still exist in the game and the sport is continuing to look for more support for associations in the regions, and for their tournaments and teams.

“Yes, it’s been the same story for a number of years now – we need more facilities and support in the regions. Many of our associations are working hard to provide basketball. That said, we’ve had the likes of Aon and Schick partnering with us to grow the youth game – Aon support our national age-group teams and tournaments. Schick have backed the senior secondary schools tournaments and the national championships. Sport New Zealand is also an important funder for us. They’re focusing a good deal of funding on basketball at the community level, because they see it as a big sport for their strategic goals. 
“We have some projects that could really be grown with more support, like our 3x3 Quest Tour, which is about three-a-side street basketball events that are offered around the country in the summer. At the High Performance level, we are woefully under-resourced, so we need more backing there to support the player pathway, so these kids can reach their potential once they complete secondary school. But overall, we continue to celebrate the growth of the game in New Zealand.”

Summary data can be found on the NZSSSC website. The census is based on returns from over 450 schools with year 9-13 students.
*NZSSSC data in this census includes all students that had a ‘meaningful engagement’ in each sport in the school setting. For example:  represented the school in that sport; or took part in a sport provided in-school over a period of six weeks or more; or played for a club arranged by the school as the school had no teams in that sport; or took part in sport that was provided through the KIWISPORT initiative.  It does not include students that took part in ‘one off’ in-school events such as school athletics / swimming sports or short term interform/house events.

Article via Basketball NZ’s website.