Some of New Zealand’s top high school athletes are in line to receive specialist clean sport education from 2017 with a new initiative for secondary schools launching this month.

Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) is taking the lead on The Youth Project with the support of partners Sport NZ, New Zealand Rugby, New Zealand Olympic Committee, New Zealand Secondary Schools Sports Council, New Zealand Rugby Players Association and the New Zealand Athletes Federation.

It’s been widely acknowledged by all partners that the New Zealand sporting environment is changing rapidly and becoming more complex. Many high school coaches are preparing their top athletes to perform at increasingly high levels but there are additional pressures which go along with that, which athletes must also be prepared for.

The Youth Project aims to address some of those pressures by ensuring the young athletes are equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to make good choices. Young athletes in sports like rugby union, netball, rugby league, cycling, rowing, hockey, cricket and football are under increasing pressure to succeed.

“We are offering free education workshops with an initial focus on those high schools which are excelling in sport at a national level,” says Drug Free Sport New Zealand chief executive Graeme Steel.

“We’re looking for high school principals and sports directors to acknowledge that some of their most talented sportspeople are under immense pressure to succeed. Collectively with our partners, we feel a responsibility to help them take the next steps in their sporting careers with confidence that they can make good decisions.”

The Youth Project will feature specially designed interactive presentations and workshops for sports teams and individuals as well as their support personnel – coaches, managers and parents.

“The workshops include information on how to compete as a ‘clean’ athlete and not succumb to cheating, in whatever guise that may be. We’re determined to contribute to a more holistic approach to prepare young athletes for high level sport.”

The initiative is being instigated now and practical application will roll out in Term 1, 2017 with 120 high schools across the country initially targeted.

We are offering free education workshops with an initial focus on those high schools which are excelling in sport at a national level - Graeme Steel.