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Coronavirus downturn sees sports in country towns struggle

Coronavirus downturn sees sports in country towns struggle
May 6, 2020

Community sporting clubs, particularly in country towns, are facing "catastrophic" consequences because of Coronavirus, according to the Australian Sports Foundation (ASF).

As elite sports face their own highly publicised financial issues ASF Chief Executive Patrick Walker said thousands of much smaller clubs across the country are at risk of closure.

Speaking to the ABC, Walker (pictured below) advised “we've had clubs write to us and say, 'Literally, we'll be out of business in three months, if we don't get any financial help'. It's that serious.

"We haven't come across a single community club, of the thousands that we deal with, who are not seriously concerned about viability and sustainability during the course of this crisis.

"They're facing no membership revenues at the moment and the traditional sources of funding for community clubs are pretty much disappearing.

"We've got lots of clubs which have had a catastrophic decline in revenue but most of their costs remain."

Adding that country towns can't afford to lose sporting clubs, Walker added “what you find in smaller rural communities is if the footy club or the bowls club goes under, almost the town or community ceases to exist as a viable entity.

"The social life really does revolve around the local sports club, it's just a key part of that community. So it'd be absolutely devastating in those communities."

In a recent opinion piece, Walker went on to say “the COVID-19 crisis has devastated our economy and turned lives all over Australia and around the world upside down.

“Among the many impacts has been a virtual cessation of sport at all levels, and while the suspension of the AFL and NRL and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have grabbed the media headlines, the most damaging aspect to our community resilience and mental health has been the embargo on community and grassroots sport.

“It is at times like these that the power of sport to improve physical and mental health, to relieve stress and anxiety and to bring communities together is most needed.”

As Australia’s peak body for philanthropy in sport, the ASF has been particularly active in helping clubs and communities through the crises of 2020.

In response to the bushfire crisis of the early months of this year, the Foundation, along with the Australian Olympic Committee, Commonwealth Games Australia and Paralympics Australia joined forces to restore grassroots sport to communities affected by the bushfires or other natural disasters.

The Sports Recovery Grants focusing on the organisations and community members who have been affected by natural disasters and require assistance to resume playing sport in their community.

Applications for these grants close this Friday (8th May).

Community sport may be advised of a timetable for restarting competition, as well as gaining new funds as of this Friday, after the next meeting of national cabinet, but the challenges will remain.

The ASF has distributed more than $400 million to Australian sporting organisations over the past 30 years and demand has increased this year.

Click here for more information on Sports Recovery Grants. 

Related Articles

5th May 2020 - Deakin University launches survey to assess how Australians are coping without sport

2nd May 2020 - FFA supports measures released for resumption of grassroots and elite sport

1st May 2020 - National Cabinet sets out measures for resumption of sport and recreation activities across Australia

30th April 2020 - Federal Sports Minister warns that NRL’s return could be threatened by players’ breach of social distancing requirements

24th April 2020 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces framework for return of sport

23rd April 2020 - Australian health and transport industry experts call for safer walking and cycling spaces   

20th April 2020 - SportWest survey reveals local sport revenue and job losses due to COVID-19

20th April 2020 - South Australian grassroots sporting facilities to receive $6 million funding

2nd April 2020 - Sportility collaborates with brands to support grassroots sports during COVID-19

30th March 2020 - Tasmanian sports organisations to get financial assistance from state Government

28th February 2020 - Australia’s leading sports organisations align for sport recovery in wake of bushfires

29th January 2020 - Australia’s major sports unite to aid bushfire affected communities rebuild

23rd July 2019 - FAN+ Australia marketplace to partner with Australian Sports Foundation

21st March 2019 - Australian Sports Foundation eases tax time donations process

19th December 2018 - Tabcorp’s Play For Purpose gets backing from Sport Australia and the Australian Sports Foundation

10th November 2018 - Trio of Olympians join Australian Sports Foundation board

30th August 2018 - Australian Sports Foundation coordinates $44.7 million in donations in last financial year

30th July 2018 - Australian Sports Foundation creates new charitable fund

11th January 2017 - Sports Foundation grants help increase participation

4th November 2016 - Australian Sports Foundation raises record funds for sport

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