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Latest Zealand Secondary School Sport: Before the Game

New Zealand Secondary School Sport: Before the Game

In 2017, over 150,000 students donned their school shirts to represent their school in competitive sport, New Zealand’s secondary schools are a prime venue for sport, especially team sports, for 13-18 year olds. This represents 54% of all students – one of the highest rates for school sports representation in the world!

Figures from the annual census of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council (NZSSSC) also show that over 9,000 teachers provided sports leadership by coaching or managing school teams, supported by an equal number of parents and other members of the community.


The NZSSSC was established in 1992 to provide governance and leadership in high school sports and is led by a regionally elected board of directors. As the national school sports authority, the NZSSSC is supported by a network of 20 regional school sports offices that provide event programs and school sport development throughout the country.

Key areas of work of the NZSSSC include;

Work with national sports organizations to coordinate and sanction the national high school championship program so that both schools and sports can best meet their needs. In 2018, this program includes 228 events in over 50 sports.

Providing professional learning opportunities through annual conferences for over 400 school sports staff.

Delivery the New Zealand Teachers Games – an annual sports tournament for teachers, aiming to “Re-engage teachers with the joy and value of sport”. http://www.sporty.co.nz/nztg

Implementing the Sport in Education initiative in schools – an approach to using sport as a tool to engage students in learning, their community and sport. The SiE approach has proven to be extremely effective in improving academic performance and school engagement, and in reducing negative social impacts.

Using the School Sport Awards system, including the International Tourism Award, to recognize and reward a range of services, innovation, leadership and achievements in New Zealand’s school sport.

Conducting an annual census of all New Zealand secondary schools and collecting data to inform planning and changes when promoting sport in secondary schools with government agencies and sports bodies in the students’ school sports experience.


While volleyball (29,000 students) and rugby (27,000) have long been top of the list in numbers representing their schools, basketball (26,000), which has seen an increase of more than 25% in the last five years, and soccer (24,000 ) reduce the distance . With current student choices moving towards small-sided sports, less formal competitive structures and opportunities to “play with friends”, a number of new sports, led by Futsal (7,000) with over 120% 5-year growth rate, are also impressive.

Being at the bottom of the Pacific, the difference in seasons and school years between the hemispheres (the New Zealand school year runs from February to December), along with distance and travel costs, can be a barrier to New Zealand’s participation in the ISF Championships. However, the quality of the ISF experience has been that teams from New Zealand have competed in the ISF Championships in tennis, football, volleyball, basketball, orienteering and cross country in recent years.

Sport is a large part of New Zealand’s cultural fabric and with such a high level of representation of sport in secondary schools, school sport plays an important role in the development of our young people to make a positive contribution to the physical, mental and social health of their community and New Zealand.

Follow NZSSSC: www.nzsssc.org.nz

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