words: Leanne Gichard

images: Supplied

To say that Jan Cochrane is passionate about sport in Mid Canterbury would be an understatement. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her passion is evident when you mention sport.  Jan is no passive observer. Having been heavily involved with netball and athletics before taking on the role of Regional Manager for Sport Canterbury – Mid Canterbury (MC), she has been a strong advocate for sport in the region. I recently had the privilege to sit down and chat with Jan about how Sport Canterbury has shaped and influenced the Mid Canterbury community.

Whether you are a participant, organiser, observer, supporter, or volunteer, I think it is fair to say that sport plays a huge part in Kiwi culture. In fact, for a lot of families, the week is organised around either training, playing, or transporting children to and from sport. So, what impact does sport really have on our community?

“We recognise the unique role that physical activity, sport and play has on not only the community, but individual wellbeing and we work to develop and achieve community objectives in sport, health, recreation and education, through leadership and advocacy, activating partnerships, investing in capability and supporting priority populations,” Jan says.  “Sport Canterbury’s focus is to build the capability of our communities.  We achieve our vision of ‘more people, more active, more often’ through a targeted community approach, based on the needs and opportunities identified and the building of connections between people and organisations within a community.”

Sport Canterbury believe that aspects of a sporting environment have the potential to change a young person’s perspective on being active; not only now, but for their lifetime and that playing sport can create physical benefits, be a source of balance, fun, and friendship. They play a large advocacy/influencing role in Mid Canterbury and currentlyfocus on providing quality experiences for the district’s young girls and women.

There are many benefits of playing sport, particularly increasing fitness, connecting with people of different backgrounds, building up self-esteem and self-belief, setting goals and creating a sense of achievement.  For many people, especially those who live alone or are elderly, involvement with exercise groups or sport may be the only time during the week that they interact with others.

Talking to Jan, it has become clear that Sport Canterbury delivers so much more than most people see or realise. For instance, with SC Mid Canterbury health advisor, Aimee Cosgrove, they deliver health and wellness programmes that support and motivate participants to be active and improve their lifestyle, as well as delivery of the ‘Green Prescription’ and ‘Strength and Balance’ programmes to inactive clients.  More importantly, there are a full range of activities to suit all people, such as low impact exercises, circuits, dance, yoga, and tai chi available through ‘Be Active’ programmes.  It is all about the enjoyment that being active brings. 

So, what is it about her role that gives Jan the most satisfaction?  “I enjoy that my role has allowed me to be able to provide opportunities for communities. Meeting and working with people to manage and enhance relationships with strategic partners (council, sporting, community, health organisations, funders, and schools) is rewarding,” says Jan.