The social connections developed through sport and recreation are hugely beneficial for anyone settling into a new community, according to Sport Canterbury Mid Canterbury Regional Manager Jan Cochrane.
Being involved with a sport or recreational activity can open many pathways for newcomers, she says. There are sports clubs in all communities to help with developing players’ skills. Training, education and employment, through various clubs and organisations, also makes joining a sports club a great option for newcomers wanting to build a great life.
“Sport offers huge opportunities for everybody. For people coming into the area it is a great way of accessing the community. It broadens opportunities to meet people and build new connections,” Jan says. “Regardless of what sport or activity someone decides to pursue, physical activity has many health benefits and can be enjoyed by people with all levels of ability,” she says.
Sport Canterbury runs courses, develops resources and provides holiday programmes to help people of all ages participate in sport and recreation. It also holds “have a go” days for school-aged children where stations are set up in the Ashburton Domain for them to try multiple activities and get a taste of what the district offers. Local sports clubs also regularly hold open days.
“In recent years, when there has been an influx of different ethnic groups settling in the district, Sport Canterbury has looked at ways of meeting the needs of these people,” Jan says.
Newcomers are also encouraged to look at sharing their favourite sport with people, if it has not already been set up here. Jan says it is a great opportunity to share your passion with your new home town and introduce more sporting options for other newcomers and locals. If anybody is finding obstacles to accessing sport, such as travel or registration fees, they are able to contact organisations like Sport Canterbury to see what support might be available to them.
“If someone is passionate about a sport that isn’t huge in the district then there are ways to help set it up. We need to be open and ask what their needs are and look at what they require to make them feel part of the community through sport,” says Jan.