Census shows basketball to become NZ’s most popular secondary schools sport by 2020

Census shows basketball to become NZ’s most popular secondary schools sport by 2020
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 HERE. 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. 



Information for schools

With 27% growth in the numbers of students representing their school in basketball over the past three years, the current NZSSSC Winter Tournament Week offerings have been under pressure with most tournaments over-subscribed in 2017. In response to this pressure, and NZSSSC and BBNZ wishing to provide tournaments at an appropriate level for all schools, three new tournaments will be offered in 2018.

At senior level, in addition to the current Zone Premierships that are qualifying events for the Schick Championships (Secondary Schools Nationals), there will be three non-qualifying events for schools wanting a quality tournament experience, but who are not attempting to qualify for the Schick Championships. In 2018 the new Central Cup (Whanganui) and Southern Cup (Ashburton) will join the Northern Cup (Papakura) on the calendar. 

The Northern Cup was created in 2016, originally hosted 10 boys and four girls teams and in 2017, the attendance leapt to 19 boys and five girls teams.  Entry into these tournaments is open to any school not wishing to qualify for the Schick Championships and not restricted to the region in which the school is situated or size of the roll. An Auckland school for example can attend the Southern Cup if it wishes to add the travel experience for students. These tournaments will help cater for growth and provide schools another appropriate level of competition to suit schools.

At the Junior level, a Premiership-grade for the top teams, and an A-grade for the next tier of schools will now be offered at all tournaments. This is to both cater for growth and give schools an option to compete in an event that suits their playing ability. Due to the number of teams entering the Junior Zone 1 and 2 Premiership Tournament, venues can no longer cater to these numbers. This tournament has been separated back to individual tournaments to take effect in 2018.  Junior Zone 1 teams (Northland to Auckland) must enter the Zone 1 tournament to be held in Harbour and Zone 2 teams (Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Taupo) must enter the Zone 2 tournament to be held in Tauranga.

As you will be aware, it is a condition of entry for NZSS Premiership tournaments and the 3x3 tournament that all teams provide a referee.  The referee should be a student of the school, who does not have any other role with the team. If you feel that you will struggle to meet this obligation, then please contact BBNZ Referee Development Manager – Melony Wealleans, referees@nz.basketball

For more information regarding the Schick Secondary Schools Basketball Tournaments click here or contact the BBNZ Office (04) 4985950.  All BBNZ Secondary Schools Tournaments are sanctioned by NZSSSC.