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News posted on Wednesday 22nd March, 2023

Building connections across the motu: Paralympics New Zealand and ACC launch the Para Sport Collective

Siobhan Terry and coach Jack Cooper pointing at the camera

Key points:

  • Paralympics New Zealand (PNZ) today launches the Para Sport Collective, a 3-year initiative supporting pre-high performance Para athletes and coaches, supported by ACC.
  • Pre-high performance Para athletes and coaches often lack the opportunity to build connections, confidence and knowledge through shared experiences, affecting their performance and their well-being.
  • The Para Sport Collective runs across a variety of Para sports, developing a like-minded community.
  • National Sport Organisations will nominate the Para athletes and coaches; the first intake commences in May 2023 with the inaugural in person camp.
  • PNZ is partnering with ACC in the delivery of the Para Sport Collective with our shared objective of generating opportunities for disabled New Zealanders to live full and active lives.

Paralympics New Zealand believes that pre-high performance Para athletes in New Zealand today need a community of like-minded individuals. There can be low numbers of athletes within any individual Para sport, and individual Para athletes have a wide range of impairments. When sharing experiences with peers is enabled, it leads to greater inclusion in sport, and helps both well-being and sporting progress.

The story is similar for Para sport coaches: knowledge exchange and peer support are extremely valuable, but coaches are often dispersed across different Para sports and different regions.

(L-R) Para athlete Siobhan Terry, Megan Main, ACC, Chief Executive, Fiona Allan, Paralympics New Zealand Chief Executive  and Jack Cooper, Paralympics New Zealand, Para Cycling Development coach holding Para Sport Collective framed commemorative certificate
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MARCH 22: (L-R) Para athlete Siobhan Terry, Megan Main, ACC, Chief Executive, Fiona Allan, Paralympics New Zealand Chief Executive and Jack Cooper, Paralympics New Zealand, Para Cycling Development coach during the official ‘Para Sport Collective launch at AUT Millennium Institute on March 22, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images for Paralympics New Zealand)

PNZ’s CE Fiona Allan says:

“Through our consultation with Para athletes and coaches we know that there is an opportunity to support Para athletes and coaches who have the ambition and desire to perform at a high level, but are not quite at a level where they receive high-performance support. Together with ACC we are seeking to work with National Sports Organisations to foster an environment to gain and share knowledge and skills, and build connections.”

PNZ and ACC seek to “bridge the gap” within the Para sport pathway and support Para athletes and coaches with the launch of the new Para Sport Collective. The Collective will bring together cohorts of pre-high performance Para athletes and coaches across a variety of Para sports.

ACC and PNZ want to motivate and inspire disabled New Zealanders to live full and active lives by getting involved in Para sport. ACC Chief Executive Megan Main says:

“We’re really excited about the proactive approach of the Para Sport Collective to support Para athletes and coaches and build their skills and confidence. We see first-hand the difference that sport can make to people after a life-changing accident. We want to generate opportunities for disabled New Zealanders – many of our clients included – to participate and compete in Para sport and we value the partnership with Paralympics New Zealand to achieve this.”

Design of the Para Sport Collective

The Para Sport Collective has been co-designed with Para athletes, coaches and National Sport Organisations. It aligns with and complements existing national and regional programmes, providing in-person camps and virtual support.

The Para Sport Collective will include two intakes of up to 30 Para athletes and 20 coaches. Each intake will have 3 national in-person camps and bi-monthly virtual connection opportunities. In total, up to 60 Para athletes and 40 coaches will come together to connect and develop through the 3 years of the Para Sport Collective.

Para athlete Siobhan Terry trains in the gym with her coach Jack Cooper
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MARCH 22: Para athlete Siobhan Terry trains in the gym with her coach Jack Cooper, Paralympics New Zealand, Para Cycling Development coach following the official ‘Para Sport Collective launch at AUT Millennium Institute on March 22, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images for Paralympics New Zealand)

Pre-high performance Para athletes may be eligible for the Para Sport Collective if they have demonstrated high performance potential against international benchmarks. Coaches of pre-high performance Para athletes (or those aspiring to coach pre-high performance Para sport) must show a commitment to engaging and contributing to the Collective.

National Sport Organisations (NSOs) nominate Para athletes and coaches for the Para Sport Collective. Those wanting more information should get in touch with PNZ.

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