By Michael Wilson, Executive Officer, Selwyn Sports Trust
In 2011 we often found asking ourselves, why? Why is Selwyn not readily recognised as a District? Why are the vast range of physical activity opportunities in Selwyn not better known? Why are Selwyn residents not catered for with ‘their own’ events? Why, why, why…
Who is involved
The ‘we’ was a group of Selwyn residents and sports enthusiasts. We had a range of experiences, involvements and ideals when it came to sport and physical activity. The thing that bound us was the positive place we held sport and physical activity and the positive influence it had on us all. We wanted to share this with the whole Selwyn District. Selwyn Sports Trust was born from this.
Well, honestly, Ellesmere Road Runners and the Selwyn Running Festival were born. Both were based out of Leeston and the community took to them. A weekly, community minded running and walking group coupled with an event that was the goal for all that regular exercise.
What we have done and how
Selwyn Sports Trust was established as we figured the support and enthusiasm shown by the Ellesmere community could be replicated Selwyn wide. The aim being to promote and support participation in sport and recreation within our District.
From humble beginnings, we have remained largely events based. Adding to our weekly running and walking groups and we’ve connected with the Malvern and Lincoln communities so we are engaging with more than 450 individuals annually.
We’ve built strong relationships with other invested groups and organisations to enhance the Shoe Clinic Selwyn Running Festival. We also incorporate the Athletics Canterbury Half Marathon Championship in the Lay Associates Half Marathon, giving locals a chance to see Canterbury’s finest runners and even compete alongside them. And we’ve engaged with local businesses (McMillan Drilling Group, Oakleys Premium Fresh Vegetables and G & M Contracting) who provide more than just financial support – guidance and involvement within the Festival too.
We have added two other annual events to fill gaps we identified. The Frontrunner Lake Crichton Series was a no brainer addition. Not only does this showcase the fantastic, yet largely unknown, facility – Lake Crichton, it provides first time triathletes with one of the safest ways to give the sport a go.
The Koru Games give South Island year 7 & 8 students an opportunity to develop their individual sporting skills while playing teams sports for their schools. There were 2000 competitors in 2016. With the support of Sport Canterbury, we will be unleashing our Physical Activity Activators on 23 Selwyn Schools from 2017.
The change we have noticed
More active communities being active together. A wider range of friendships, interactions while exercising, racing and socialising. The invisible silos within our communities have been broken down to a certain extent through people being active together, be these generational, social, gender and so on.
We hear from many of our participants that their perception of what racing is and who it is for has changed from being something for the elite and very capable and committed to something for all. We also hear that highlighting and utilising local resources and facilities is a fantastic way to show off and bring pride to the District and its residents. It’s also a great way to open the eyes of locals to what they have on their own doorstep.
What we’ve learned
It has required a huge commitment from a large number of selfless individuals and organisations to begin the journey. We are very conscious of all the support and guidance we have received so far, from the individuals standing on corners during races, to those that fill out reviews to ensure we continue to cater to their needs, to the financial contributors.
We believe the initiatives and events that are the most successful are those that directly engage with their competitors and participants. Those that have clear and understood goals, vision and direction that is malleable are most successful.
We also believe that the word success has to be clearly understood. We are most definitely clear that success is not having the most participants, the largest events or making large amounts of money. It is our goal to enrich people’s lives and community well being through sport and recreation and this is how we measure success.
More info: selwynsportstrust.org.nz/