The Battle of the Codes 2023 is a pilot event that came to life through discussions with our Youth Empowerment Sport Squad (YESS Council) when tasked with the question – 'How can we improve the Whanganui Secondary School Cross Country event'.
Background: Over the years the Whanganui Secondary Schools Cross Country event has slowly decreased in entry numbers. In 2021 Sport Whanganui decided to add a Cross Country Relay option to the usual individual event, in the hopes it would increase participation numbers. This option was very popular but we knew we could do better. In 2022 we expanded the concept even further separating the two events so they took place on different days, one day was the individual event and one week later was the relay event. The thinking behind this was to allow students the opportunity to take part in both events, rather than having to pick just one. We knew we were on the right track with the adaptations to the event we had made, but we still weren't getting the entry numbers that I thought we should. I posed the question to the YESS Council at our first meeting of the year 'How can we make the WSS Cross Country event better?' Together after various discussions, the Council came up with the following Event concept.
What: A WSS Cross Country Relay event at Tawhero Golf Course, but instead of representing your School like usual, you will represent your Winter Sport Code. Football, Hockey, Rugby & Netball will be the four Codes to choose from when entering the event. We will invite the RSO's (Regional Sport Organisations) will be invited to come and organise their codes – set up gazebos, hand out wrist bands, sort out teams etc. Sport Whanganui with support from the YESS Council will set up the course, handle the registrations and results, run the briefing and prizegiving, organise volunteers, and support the codes where needed.
The course will be split into four race legs that will vary in distance and terrain. Teams will be made up of four people, with one team member doing one of the four legs. Teams will be required to be made up of students from at least two different schools and must have at least one male and one female. Juniors and seniors will be combined (this may change depending on entry numbers).
When: The event will take place on Wednesday the 17th of May 2023, falling right in the middle of Youth Week 2023.
Why: Decreased numbers over the years for this event gives us the insights we need to provide something different that better suits the majority of the rangatahi in our region. The YESS council provides us with a youth perspective of what they want to do and how they want to do it. Having them co-design this project makes it all the more worthwhile.
Who: Sport Whanganui and the YESS Council will lead the event. Four Regional Sport Organisations will be approached to support the event. Nga Tai o Te Awa will provide support on the day.
Summary: Sport Whanganui and the YESS Council hope that this event creates a stronger relationship between the sporting codes and the secondary school students. We also think that the interschool relationships will improve as schools will have to work together to earn points for their chosen code.
All in all we hope to achieve a successful youth led activation event that connects the community, the schools, and the codes all together.