Importance of Team Sport in our Communities

Importance of Team Sport in our Communities

I rise today to speak about the importance of team sport in our communities.

Mr President, for a long time, sport has been an integral part of the South Australian community fabric. Around the State individuals from all walks of life have come together to form clubs that play a range of sports. I can vividly remember from a young primary school age, lining up and participating in a team for the Berri netball club as well as the Riverland Tennis Association. Although my netball and tennis careers showed promising signs early, my success was short lived, and I found myself better at debating rather than shooting a netball. However, this did not deter my involvement. I later tried my luck at hockey, and I was fortunate enough to win a premiership, more as a result of my teammates’ talents rather than my own. Recently, I have stayed involved in sport by volunteering as a water runner and trainer for the Berri Football Club.

I may not have been lucky enough to reach the heights of the Adelaide Crows AFLW, the Adelaide Thunderbirds or the Adelaide lightening and I do not stand here today professing to be a fantastic sports person. The fact is that most people who play sport never reach the top echelon of their chosen past time. That is not what sport should be about. It should be about friendships, a healthy lifestyle and community. Anecdotally there are many benefits for adults and children in being involved in a team environment and being active. The benefits of sport are supported by Beyond Blue, who do fantastic work in the community regarding mental health. Beyond Blue state that sport teaches us the value of teamwork, how to deal with setbacks, while also being a proven de-stressor. Additionally, sporting clubs create a social aspect in people’s lives, lead to friendships and provide a human connection which is important in maintaining good mental health. Each of us, our children and our communities can enjoy the benefits of team sport and participating in local organisations, no matter the level.

Prior to the COVID-19 restrictions which have brought competitions around the state to a halt, according to AusPlay, 47% of South Australian children participated in a sport through a club or association. I would like to commend Minister the Hon Corey Wingard for appreciating the value in sports participation, particularly for our Children. The Governments’ sports voucher program for reception to year 7 students aims to lift the number of children playing organised sport in our state. This program helps remove barriers to participation and as a mother, I have utilised this program for both my daughters. The sports vouchers program is a fantastic government initiative and one that each of us should be encouraging our communities to take advantage of.

Mr President, sport is about the grassroots organisations, the club stalwarts, the players and the dedicated support staff who volunteer so many hours of their time for the love of the game. In my club, the Berri Demons, it is about the Barry Leathers of the world who have dedicated decades of their life to maintain the heart of the club. Every sporting club around South Australia has a Barry Leathers. Our clubs cannot prosper without these volunteers and without the dedication of players. Players in our regional clubs often commute from the city during their university years because of the love for their clubs and again, it is the community spirit that is the backbone of these sporting clubs all around our state.

Whilst we are seeing many of our sporting clubs making the difficult decision to call off the season due to the effects of COVID-19 it is important that we look to embrace these clubs into the future and ensure they are supported in their bid to start up again in full force in 2021.

Mr President, sport should not just be about the elite. Rather it should be about children learning to kick a football or a soccer ball, shoot a netball or learn gymnastics or a dance routine. Ultimately, sport should be about being a part of a community and “having a go”.

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