The New Zealand Olympic Committee has launched a mechanism to increase the strength of athlete voice in the country ©Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) has launched a mechanism to increase the strength of athlete voice in the country.

The NZOC Athletes’ Commission initiative called Athlete Leaders Network (ALN) is set to be fully operational from 2023, with a general manager and interim Board to be appointed soon.

Applications for the role of general manager is already open and will end on October 25.

A tree-planting ceremony was organised for the launch of ALN, designed with input from athlete leaders.  

"This initiative is by athletes, for athletes," said  NZOC Athletes’ Commission chair Sarah Cowley Ross.

"With athlete leaders across Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games sport included in the network, the ALN is about empowering athletes and advocating for change, from within the sporting system.

"Athletes have told us they want a network that can build athlete mana, promote a well-being focus across the system, serve the needs of diverse sports, athletes, and funding levels, and provide support for athletes to grow their leadership and advocacy capability.

"The new ALN will deliver this."

The idea of the initiative is to get athlete voice into decision making across the high performance sport system.

Plans are in place for chair of the Drug Free Sport New Zealand Athletes’ Commission and WADA Athletes’ Commission chair Ben Sandford to sit on the ALN interim Board.

"An athlete voice mechanism that is focused on advocacy, capability and wellbeing is crucial to the health of our high performance system," Sandford said. 

"We need to have diverse athletes from across both funded, and non-funded, sports empowered to advocate for what’s important to them."

Anna Taylor, Paralympics New Zealand Athletes’ Council representative, who is also on the ALN interim Board, is looking forward to the opportunity to make a difference for athletes.

Meanwhile, NZOC chief executive Nicki Nicol feels ALN will empower athlete voice in the country.

"We’re delighted to have been able to support the NZOC Athletes’ Commission with their initiative to deliver this new athlete voice mechanism," Nicol said.

"While the NZOC will provide the opportunity through administrative and structural support, the ALN will operate independently and that’s really important."