University and Tertiary Sport NZ reveals plans to launch new ‘Challenge Series’ in 2020

University and Tertiary Sport NZ reveals plans to launch new ‘Challenge Series’ in 2020

The UTSNZ Challenge Series, a new and exciting inter-tertiary competition, will be launched in July 2020 to boost participation and engagement of tertiary students in sport and recreation across New Zealand.

Through the Challenge Series, UTSNZ aims to continue the delivery of quality events and contribute to positive student experiences by providing an opportunity to trial newly identified and/or aspiring sports, formats and events that otherwise may not be represented at a tertiary level.

The series will incorporate a variety of both online and physical events for students and run annually alongside UTSNZ’s flagship National Tertiary Championship programme.

Events will be coordinated by UTSNZ, in partnership with sporting organisations, universities, external event providers and/or not for profit organisations with strategies in place to attract the tertiary student demographic. The series will include sports that UTSNZ does not currently cater for, meaning new communities and a wider variety of students will be reached.

The need for diversification is further explained by UTSNZ Executive Director Sarah Anderson.

“To provide a quality, dynamic and sustainable tertiary sport environment, event structure must be flexible and dynamic to meet the needs of a diverse student population” says Anderson.

“We must respond to the changing needs of participants and the global trends within sport”.

To date the key objective of UTSNZ has been the rebuilding a national competition structure through the support and co-ordination of sports already delivering within the tertiary space. Now in its fifth year, the organisation is looking forward to expanding its event offerings and working with other sports and partners to enter them appropriately into the tertiary calendar.

One such sport to benefit is Esport.

Partnering with Wellington-based esport company and online platform provider, Victory Up, the new UTSNZ Challenge Series will initially launch with two online esport tournaments in 2020, including FIFA20 on PS4 and League of Legends. These games selected for their broad appeal, widespread acknowledgment as competitive esport titles and the international participation pathways available specifically for tertiary students. 

When asked what students thought, University of Waikato student gamer Campbell Knowles confirmed the appeal.

“I think it’s a great opportunity not only for students who have been competing in esports for a fair bit, but also those looking to start competing. It gives them a chance to test themselves against others around them in a friendlier environment and helps establish friendships with like-minded people” said Knowles.

Looking ahead to 2021, UTSNZ hopes to continue the successful relationship developed with Athletics NZ through the Covid-19 crisis, incorporating the NSO's Virtual Run series within the suite of challenge events, and conversations are also being held with NZ Rugby as to the potential of alternative game modifications and delivery options (such as 10-aside rugby) that might better serve the game and its participants, in particular those who have left secondary school and transitioned into tertiary education. 

Full 2020 Challenge Series details including tournaments, dates, rules, eligibility criteria and registration forms will be published on the UTSNZ website here

Posted: Tue 30 Jun 2020