March 2021,

Women in HP Sport – Pilot Project becomes Permanent

HPSNZ has underlined its commitment to seeing more women in high performance sport leadership and coaching roles by making its Women in High Performance Sport project an ongoing strategic priority in the new 2024 Strategy.

The Women in High Performance Sport project was established in 2019 as an initial two-year pilot designed to test and trial innovative approaches, to address the significant under-representation of women in HP leadership and coaching positions.

HPSNZ Chief Executive Michael Scott says while it’s early days for the project, we are already seeing a positive impact for both the women engaged in different initiatives and our NSO partners. The work is hugely important and ongoing investment will enable sustained opportunities to attract and retain women into and across the HP sport system.

“We are committed to driving positive change for women in high performance sport so our system can benefit from greater diversity in the future,” he says.

The project consists of three core streams:

  • Women in HP Residency Fund – developing a diverse cohort of talented, highly capable, future female leaders and high performance coaches through funding fixed term employment opportunities in NSOs
  • Te Hāpaitanga – A holistic high performance coach initiative designed to grow the talent pool of emerging and future female high performance coaches
  • NSO HP environments – working in collaboration with NSOs to foster sustainable and inclusive HP sport environments.


The Residency Programme and Te Hāpaitanga are already well established. Sarah Blake, High Performance Programme Lead, Cycling New Zealand, and a member of the first Residency Fund cohort, says the extension of the programme is great news for high performance sport.

“My experience with the WHPS Residency Fund has exceeded expectations. I have learnt so much from the other incredible women involved in the initiative and I have had the opportunity to build on and gain new skills and knowledge critical to leading a HP programme. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I am excited to see the initiative develop in the coming years” she says.

Ant Sharp, Head of Women’s High Performance at New Zealand Cricket, reflects on the impact of HSPNZ’s investment to date on the future of cricket’s female pathway saying:

“The Women in HP Sport Project has had a profound effect on the female pathways at NZC during the past 12 months. It has provided an opportunity for an elite female coach to develop within our system and has given direction to our developing female cricketers by providing mentoring, leadership, and ongoing learning and reflection”.

Project Manager Sonia Boland says the NSO HP Environments stream aims to ensure that NSOs have improved awareness of diversity and inclusion standards and that more organisations have policies, processes and are demonstrating behaviours that help to create environments that support and benefit from diversity.

“NSOs creating environments that are inclusive and diverse, and promote trust, respect and belonging is critical to the goal of attracting and retaining more women to high performance coaching and leadership positions,” she says.

HPSNZ will support this by facilitating initiatives such as gender equitable HR guidelines and processes, as well as education packages and capability development in diversity and inclusion strategies and approaches.

Find out more about HSPNZ’s 2024 Strategy here.