Te Aroha Softball Club was the first softball club to promote water-only sidelines and be rewarded with the pool passes in 2017. Another 10 softball clubs have joined the water-only movement enabling 1500 junior softball players to receive pool passes as their player of the day reward.
Susan Luke, Junior Convener for Te Aroha Softball Club says, “Our community event, Te Rā o te Raukura, went Fizz Free in 2013, promoting a Wai Māori kaupapa. It was only right that Te Aroha Softball continues to promote our water kaupapa through the club. When we had the opportunity to promote drinking water on our sidelines and incorporate the Player of the Day pool passes we jumped on board straight away.”
Parents and coaches have welcomed the initiative. Lara Andrews, NZ White Sox player, parent and coach of Te Aroha’s Under 11 Keas team says “As a coach I prefer to hand out a pool pass than a voucher for unhealthy food.”
Having the support and backing of adults is one thing, but what makes this alternative player of the day reward so popular is that junior players are enthusiastically picking up the reward and the other whānau members benefit too.
Cruz, a player for the under 11s team says, “I’ve got a few of these Player of the Day certificates now as I also get them at Touch Rugby. It is cool that when I work hard for something I get something fun in return. In the holidays when I’m bored I can walk to McKenzie pool with my sister and use my pool pass.”
Promoting water as the drink of choice, while breaking the link between less healthy food options and junior sport is what drove Healthy Families Lower Hutt and Hutt City Council to create the alternative player of the day rewards with pool passes. Now there are five Councils across the region that accepts the pool passes. “Since starting this initiative in 2016, we’ve offered 22,000 vouchers across two regional sports codes and 27 individual local clubs. Our goal is to provide opportunities for young people to be active and access Lower Hutt’s wonderful facilities, including our pools.” Matt Reid, General Manager City and Community Services at Hutt City Council and Chair of Healthy Families Lower Hutt.