Kiwis ‘Future Proof’ The Sport in NZ

LOCKDOWN’S SILVER LINING SET TO BENEFIT KART CLUBS ONCE RESTRICTIONS ARE LIFTED

Five weeks of Level 4 COVID-19 Lockdown has provided KartSport New Zealand with a valuable opportunity to train and/or upskill a whole range of club officials on-line – effectively ‘future-proofing’ the sport when drivers are allowed back on track.

“I know it hasn’t all been beer and skittles for everyone, and my heart goes out to all those people now under severe financial pressure as a direct result of the Coronavirus and effect the lockdown period has had on the job market,” says National President Graeme Moore.

KartSport NZ members taking time out during Lockdown (including medic Sean Lockyear 2nd row 2nd from right) to participate in another on-line officials training session on the Zoom teleconferencing app (pic – KartSport New Zealand/Zoom)

“What we have found, however, is that a lot of people have had time on their hands, and a lot of those associated with our fantastic little sport have chosen to use that time by logging on to our Facebook page and using the on-line resources we have been developing to work their way through our event Event Race Official grades programme.

KartSport New Zealand’s Competitions Manager, Warrick Parkes, has been a passionate proponent of on-line training, along with the KartSport New Zealand Executive, and Moore says that since taking on the job just over two years ago Parkes has helped ‘revolutionise’ the way the sport’s race day officials are trained.

Rather than consuming even more of their time and energy travelling to weekend seminars like they used to have to do, budding officials can now do much of the ‘paperwork’ on line, then be mentored and observed for the practical components by senior officials while they are working at meetings.

“Yes,” Parkes says. “It was a vision that I wanted to achieve once we had the tools in place to do so. I’m just very fortunate that I was supported in this vision by past Executive members who put the hard ground work into designing and writing the training modules so that at some future stage they could be put on-line, along with current Executive members like Dee Workman who have upgraded our website and IT system so that we could do so.”

Through the COVID-19 Lockdown period Parkes and Moore have also been running regular group update sessions via the popular Zoom video conferencing app.

These, Parkes believes, have been absolutely crucial in terms of changing the way people work.

“Definitely, “ he says. “A number of our trainees were either working their day job from home or were at their place of work, but they were able to find the short amount of time required to sit in on the online seminar and complete and submit the online questionnaires.

“There was no travelling involved for them to get to a traditional classroom seminar and because it didn’t take up any more of their time than needed, they could then get on with their daily life.”

While this could well have happened without the current Lockdown Parkes believes that the process would definitely have taken longer.

“ I do think our Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions gave us that little “push” to start on-line training. Our President Graeme Moore approached me saying ‘this is a great time to start on-line training, let’s see what interest we have from our members,’ and from that point on it took on a life of its own!

“The initial take up of 46 pre-registered members and the extremely high participation rate at the on-line seminars has been outstanding, and I can’t thank these people enough for giving up their time both now and in the future as a Race Official once we get back to the tracks racing so they can complete their on track training days.”

That being so, could the move on-line be used to benefit the sport in any other way?

Parkes certainly thinks so.

“Once we have set up and tested a range of other on-line training seminars for Race and Tech Officials we will definitely look at bringing in on-line training for all other areas of our sport,” he said this week.

“There will still be a requirement at times for face to face practical training seminars like the one we held last year with our Race Officials at KartSport Wellington where we had on track driving simulations and demonstrations carried out by some of our KSNZ Accredited Coaches.

“This learning session was invaluable and we all learnt a lot from each other, but it came at a cost with the air fares and accommodation getting the Officials to a central location.

“With the introduction of on-line training for things which don’t require this sort of direct location-based contact I will be able to dramatically reduce my training budget costs, something that will benefit the sport going forward.”

Parkes says that he has been impressed with the willingness of everyone involved, particularly those who might – not long ago – have been considered ‘computer-averse,’ to ‘get with the programme,’ download the Zoom app and get involved.

“As with anything new we are constantly learning and trying to improve but I have to say that I have a great team around me.

“The best feature of on-line training is the ability to interact with the other trainees, seeing their reactions and sharing documents just like you do in a face-to-face classroom situation, but in this case from the comfort of your home office chair.

“In saying that, none of this would have been possible without the support of my team around me putting hours of their time into upgrading our IT system and training us on how to use it correctly and helping with the training sessions.

“To that end I would like to acknowledge and thank our Executive, Wayne Croft, Russell Miller and Graham Knight, for their help getting online training off the ground.

“So much of our efforts are aimed at our drivers, whether they be future champions in the making or those who are happy to just have a kart in the shed and take it out at the odd club meeting.

“Obviously, they are all champing at the bit to get back behind the wheel as the success of our new iRacing Virtual Club Meeting initiative has proved.

“From what I’ve been seeing and hearing in the Zoom meetings though, I think there are just as many officials missing the buzz of actually running a meeting. And I’m fairly sure that when we get the green light from the Government to go racing again the drivers will not be the only ones with big smiles on their faces.”

SEAN LOCKYEAR – SIGNING ON AS A RACE OFFICIAL ‘MY WAY OF SAYING THANK YOU’

For keen young club-level karter Sean Lockyear from Wellington signing on as a race official was the least he could do.

“My club (KartSport Wellington) is awesome. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, I love hanging out there even when I’m not racing,” he says.

“We’re really lucky in Wellington to have such a fantastic club.”

Though Sean Lockyear has been working throughout the Lockdown the Zoom teleconferencing app has allowed him to join fellow budding Race Officials as they go through their ‘paperwork’ on-line. (pic – KartSport New Zealand)

Though he leads a busy and many would consider very stressful life working as an anaesthetic technician at Wellington Hospital (which explains the ‘scrubs’ he is wearing in the photos) as well as an Ambulance Officer for St Johns, Sean tries to compete at every KartSport Wellington club day he can.

Having ‘roped in’ his wife to help (she is now one of two female race controllers on the club’s duty roster) he says he quickly saw the value of being a volunteer and decided to sign up himself as his way of ‘saying thank you.’

“I was looking for some way to ‘give back’ to the club for everything it has given and done for me, so helping run events – as my wife has now for the past year – seemed a pretty good option to me.

“Both KartSport and the Wellington club have given me quite a bit since I started so this is my chance to – if you like – return the favour!”

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