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Coronavirus downturn sees sports in country towns struggle
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.
24th April 2020 - Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces framework for return of sport
29th January 2020 - Australia’s major sports unite to aid bushfire affected communities rebuild
21st March 2019 - Australian Sports Foundation eases tax time donations process
10th November 2018 - Trio of Olympians join Australian Sports Foundation board
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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