More than 4500 kids are playing winter sport this year, with the vast majority of them kicking off this Saturday.

Kids ready for winter sport

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More than 4500 kids will take to the sports fields, courts and turfs of Nelson and Tasman this week, as junior winter sport kicks off.

Most junior sports start this Saturday, so Nelson Weekly asked each of the major sporting codes in Nelson and Tasman the number of registered players aged between 5 and 13.

Those registrations show football will be the most played sport in the region, although it is neck-and-neck with rugby, both with around 1350 players in that age group.

Netball is the third most popular with just under 1000 players, followed by basketball, hockey and tennis.

Nelson Bays Football general manager, Clive Beaumont says the number of kids playing football has been increasing over the past ten years and he’s thrilled to see another increase of about 40 kids this year, giving the code a total of 1352 junior players.

Netball Nelson manager Chelsea Routhan says she is happy with another strong showing from juniors. “It’s up on last year which is great, and we’ll all excited for Saturday.”

Other sports such as tennis still have strong numbers in winter, with 204, despite it being a traditional summer sport. Nelson Bays Tennis coordinator Ali McQuillan says many of those players do play another winter sport as well, but she’s happy to retain around a third of their summer registrations which were 612 this year.

Nelson Basketball says its junior leagues start this Friday night in Saxton Stadium, while hockey starts next Thursday.

Sport Tasman chief executive Nigel Muir says