4 min read

Exclusive: Support For Community Sport In 2022


In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport, Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) partnerships manager, Ryan Holloway, discussed the financial and participation challenges facing grassroots sport in 2022 and explained how financial support of community sport will be a strong focus for the year.

The Australian Sports Foundation recently announced the details of the 2022 round of the Active Kids Grants, with the Dickinson Foundation supporting the ASF to provide grants valued up to $10,000 to community sporting clubs in need.

The funding round, which is open until 5pm AEDT on Monday 24 January 2022, will be made to fund projects from community sporting clubs targeting the support of participation for people under 20-years old.

Talking about the recent surveys the ASF conducted since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic on the impacts the pandemic has caused to grassroots sport, Holloway said the impact on child participation has been really concerning.

“We conducted some surveys initially when COVID first hit and resulted in the shutdowns, lockdowns, and cancellations of seasons which truly impacted community grassroots sporting organisations,” Holloway told Ministry of Sport.

“We wanted to understand more about how the impact of COVID would affect these clubs and the three main things we’ve found through the initial survey in 2020 and the most recent one in mid-last year is the financial sustainability, decline in participation and decline in volunteering are the main areas of concern.

“The decline in participation seen across the board has been a real concern and the strongest decline in participation we’ve seen through the respondents of the survey was in the 11-18 years bracket.

“That for us is really concerning because we know kids not only make up a large number of participants within community and grassroots sport, but also provide the platform for the future sustainability of those clubs as the volunteers, club presidents, secretaries, the team managers, future coaches.

“So we want to make sure those kids still have a club to be able to go and play and participate in.

“To that end, through some support from the Dickinson Foundation, we’ve been able to launch the latest round of the Active Kids Grants, which are aimed towards reducing barriers of participation for kids.

“These will really focus on getting tangible equipment, kit and uniforms out to clubs so they can run junior participation programs and have more kids involved in sport without having to add-on costs.

“One of the things the survey found was COVID has meant there are increased costs for clubs as they return to action to ensure COVID-safety protocols, proper hygiene and sanitation, and it’s also meant a lot of clubs who used to be able to share equipment across a number of different participants, have had to look at having personalised equipment for those participants.

“Clubs can apply through the Active Kids Grant through the ASF to get the right hardware, equipment and uniforms they need to reduce any further on-costs they may have for their junior participants and their families.

“COVID has not only shutdown sporting seasons, but also business, so usually the first thing to go when things get tough are the extra-curricular things like sport.

“These grants are all about trying to eliminate any participation barriers,” he said.

When asked about the challenges for grassroots sporting organisations in securing commercial partnerships with local businesses and capitalising on the commercial value of sport, Holloway said a mutual understanding between businesses and sporting clubs is essential.

“Local businesses are generally the ones driving sponsorship and revenues for grassroots and community clubs and they’ve been hit by the economic downturn due to COVID,” Holloway said.

“What we encourage clubs to do is continue to engage those local businesses where you can, understand they’re hurting as much as your club has been hurting, and look at different ways you might be able to get funding through.

“Our expertise is obviously in fundraising and the philanthropic area and we really encourage fans to look at our platform and consider that as a means to get some revenue in.

“The encouraging thing we have found since COVID has hit is that there are a lot of people out there in the community that care about your sport and are passionate about your club and we’ve seen some increased donations at the community and grassroots level within those areas that have been able to give and have done so quite significantly,” he told Ministry of Sport.

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