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Staying physically active for life starts at a young age

Thousands of North Canterbury children have been introduced to sporting activity programmes as soon as they start primary school, thanks to the efforts and dedication of the North Canterbury Sport and Recreation Trust (NCSRT) over almost four decades.

Since it was established in 1983, NCSRT has been ensuring that interest in life-long physical activity begins at an early age and that any barriers to participation are removed.  The Trust’s goal is to also instill the skills children need to continue with sports as they grow older.

NCSRT Operations Manager Rosie Oliver says the Trust’s programmes begin from the age of new entrants where they begin to build habits to encourage physically activity for life.

 “Meeting with us regularly each fortnight, kids learn to feel happy and develop skills – such as spatial awareness – using all sorts of sports equipment, whether it’s balls or racquets,” she says.

“We have children participating from the Waimakariri River in the south, up to Hāpuku in the north, covering over 7400 children from Year 0- 8, across 42 schools.”

The Trust is the largest provider of community sport and wellbeing programmes for all age groups in North Canterbury as part of its promotion for healthy lifestyles.

NCSRT also provides gym and fitness facilities across the region, runs in-school coaching  programmes, as well as trampolining, gym, fitness and dance classes for young people.

It also organises a number of popular indoor sporting competitions and events. 

NSCRT receives multi-year funding from Rātā Foundation under its Participate funding focus area.

Rosie Oliver says that the Rātā annual contribution to the NCSRT is a crucial part of its funding model.

“Rātā provides the Trust with the stability and assurance of annual funding, which allow us to employ the high quality coaches that help deliver our successful programme,” she says.

“Coaches are the face of the programme.

“It doesn’t matter what happens in the background, but unless their delivery is A1, schools won’t want us. We need to be sought in every school in North Canterbury and the Hurunui.”

Rātā Foundation Chief Executive Leighton Evans says it’s support of the NCSRT is one of the many ways Rātā can help support communities to remove barriers to participation and connect.

“Sport, both structured and unstructured, and physical activity are extremely beneficial for young children and it’s great to see them participate and interact with each other, all while learning valuable skills for their future,” he says.

NCSRT will also run the new Mainpower Stadium in Rangiora which opened in August 2021.