New data highlights changing face of netball in NZ

Could the Silver Ferns look very different in the future? Photo: Photosport

New participation data from the country’s oldest and largest netball centre has given some insights into who’s playing the sport at grassroots level and how that’s changing.

The Auckland Netball Centre is one of the first centres to move to a new member management system, which Netball New Zealand is trying to implement across Aotearoa.

It means the centre can easily breakdown participation rates, including by ethnicity.

The goal is that Netball New Zealand will have information from centres across the whole country that will allow it to identify trends in participation – a first for the sport.

About 10,500 players are registered with the Auckland Netball Centre for this year’s winter competition from year one primary school players up to and including club level.

The centre has kept its own records for more than a decade and the biggest shifts have come under the ‘Asian’ and ‘Other’ categories.

Auckland Netball Centre CEO Dianne Lasenby said in 2009 Asian participants were tracking at 3 percent, this year they make up 10.3 percent of players.

In fact there are now more Asian players than Māori by a tiny margin.

Māori participation, which has been pretty static over the years, sits at 10.2 percent this season.

Lasenby said Asian participation had started nudging ahead of Māori in the last couple of years.

“Pasifika has increased a bit – that group used to sit around 15 percent about a decade ago, that’s gone up and it’s 19.7 percent this year,” Lasenby said.

The ‘Other’ ethnic grouping is where they’ve had the most growth.

“That used to sit at about 2 percent in 2009, now it’s at 12.3 percent. That group includes a lot of new immigrant communities.

“We’ve seen more African players coming through, more players from Middle Eastern countries. There have been some other European countries as well that you might not expect – the Czech Republic etcetera coming in as well.”

This year New Zealand Europeans make up 47.5 percent of players.

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