Sport Taranaki CEO Michael Carr is still working hard on “shifting the dial” on activity and sport in Taranaki.
Reflecting on an action-packed first year in the role he said in many ways his time as CEO has been a year of extremes. While well equipped for challenge after 14 years as a principal, a representative sporting career and coaching and community leadership roles, the impacts of Covid-19 on the community came out of the blue.
“It was about finding my feet then being thrust into a dramatically different environment.”
During that response period though it was the people surrounding him that helped make the difference. The team rallied and reorganized, providing a range of support from home exercise routines, funding support and pulling together groups of clubs and organisations fronting up to the Covid-19 challenge.
“People have risen to the challenge and made the best of it as an organisation. It just shows how far we can reach and the impact we can have. I’m immensely proud of our team and the individuals that make it up.”
But the big challenges for Sport Taranaki, whose mission is inspiring Taranaki to build a thriving, innovative community through physical activity, are still considerable.
“I had this belief that we are overachievers as a small nation in a sporting and active sense, but beneath that we have some serious issues to address because we are actually performing poorly on the international stage on those activity areas. It’s not until you are in the role that you get a real appreciation of that.”
Getting more people, more active would not be a one-size-fits- all approach and it was important to help people “shift the dial’’ in a range of areas.
Sport Taranaki had moved from primarily putting on events and programmes to help lead, inspire and foster a strong sporting and activity network that caters for diverse groups, and provides ways for people of ages and abilities to contribute.
“It’s a long road, we are walking it now because it’s our core business. That is the biggest consideration for me. We genuinely want to have impact and reach our whole region but we know we can’t be everything to everyone, we have to be working at that high level.”
Workplace wellness and flexibility was one way to do this and Sport Taranaki were putting in place a policy, involving a range of working practices to embed worker wellness into the business.
“We are working to be a front runner and a role model for this.” he says. “It’s about finding that hook and understanding that everyone has a different level of need and working with them to find a way to make it work.”
Another major project set to have a massive positive impact on the community was the proposed multi-sport hub development at New Plymouth Racecourse. Sport Taranaki is leading the planning process for the project, which is driven by a community shortage of key facilities and has gathered wide support.
“This is a facility that will be a long-term community asset, boosting wellbeing and social connection as well as providing much needed facilities for the community.” The project will shortly be debated for inclusion in the New Plymouth District Council Long Term Plan.
Meanwhile the change of roles, from school principal to CEO, has motivated a few changes.
“I am eating and sleeping better and getting more active than I was, but just not as consistently as I would like.”