The estimated value of the sport and recreation sector to the New Zealand economy is $4.9 billion per annum. Making difficult decisions within the complex landscape of this industry is a fundamental role of sport management.
AUT recently hosted the Sports Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) annual conference. The conference showcased the latest thinking in the field of sport management, and opened with a panel discussion that emphasised collective and informal approaches to sport leadership.
Associate Professor Lesley Ferkins from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation chaired the panel discussion and welcomed the opportunity for conference attendees (spanning academics, sport management professionals and industry partners) to share their knowledge and expertise.
“The collaborative approach between practitioners and education institutes is invaluable. It creates new partnerships and allows us to look at problems in different ways,” says Associate Professor Ferkins.
The partnerships between education institutes and organisations create a cyclical environment in which research informs practice and practice informs further research. This environment provides opportunities to continually test new models that stand to benefit the sector, and to fully consider the host of external factors that impact sports initiatives and organisations.
Understanding and navigating this complexity has never been more important than in today’s competitive climate, calling for adept leadership. “Leadership is the key element in gluing together the different components of sport, and the type of leadership needed for our sector increasingly appears to be a relational, shared approach which contrasts with the traditional individual and position orientated style,” says Associate Professor Ferkins.
Attendees heard from a range of leaders and leadership experts, including New Zealand Rugby ambassador and former All Black Keven Mealamu. He was interviewed by AUT Bachelor of Sport and Recreation student Chantelle Huch, who elicited thought-provoking insights into Mealamu’s experience of leadership in both elite and community sport – among them a Samoan proverb he cites as having had a strong influence on his own leadership ethos: “the path to leadership is through service.”
Conference delegates included attendees from the University of Otago, Deakin University Melbourne, , Griffith University Brisbane, Loughborough University London, Victoria University Melbourne and AUT industry partners such as Sport New Zealand, New Zealand Rugby and Aktive Auckland.