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'Lack of funding in women's sport'

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The new chair of Netball New Zealand says even high profile women's sports are facing big funding challenges.

Auckland lawyer Allison Ferguson is the former chairwoman of Auckland Netball Centre. She provided her legal expertise towards the development of the centre's multi million dollar facility which opened in 2006.

She said netball was in a good place in New Zealand but faced funding challenges.

"Netball is the number one sport for women and girls in New Zealand and the highest participation across codes in secondary schools. It is vital in the fabric of New Zealand society," she said.

"We need to do what we can to maintain that position and advance it. But women's sport, even a prominent one such as netball, is incredibly resource constrained and there is never enough money to do everything we want, so it is always a challenge and funding is a focus."

"Also the world is changing quickly. We will need to adapt to that," she said.

She said changes and different ways of looking at things were constantly being made to tackle new challenges.

"The last year or two have been focussed on investing in our player pathways with the BEKO league and the new ANZ Premiership," she said.

"Through these we have a significant uplift in the number of athletes who are brought into our high performance programs. This is an investment in the future of the game. As with all team sports, netball is going through a transition phase and we are increasingly looking forward into what the future needs of our sport are," she said.

She said it was an honour to be taking on the role of chairperson.

"The board sets the strategy and policies for the organisation and oversees the financial management and as chair I have some additional responsibilities such as being the spokesperson for the board and chairing our meetings," she said.

"A lot of time is spent advocating for the sport with Government, funders and sponsors. It is an incredible honour to have the opportunity to serve the sport in this way."

Ferguson won't have the luxury of devoting all of her tme to the new role. She is also a mother, a partner at Wilson Harle Barristers and Solicitors in Auckland, and now the chair of Netball New Zealand after being nominated by outgoing chair and former Fisher and Paykel CEO John Bongard.

She grew up in Tokoroa and said she was ready to take on her latest role, despite knowing she'll have to juggle her life a bit more.

"My most important role is as a mother and that is the hardest one to juggle," she said.

"If it were only the two roles, I'd probably manage fine. The support networks I have in both roles are excellent."

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