HomeFinanceExclusive: The State Of Grassroots Sport

Exclusive: The State Of Grassroots Sport

Patrick Walker CEO

Exclusive: The State Of Grassroots Sport

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he Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) has conducted a second national research study to determine the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s 70,000 community sports clubs.

As a result, 13% of clubs fear insolvency, indicating around 9,000 clubs across Australia are at risk of going under.

Nearly 83% of clubs reported a loss in revenue of approximately $18,500, including loss of sponsorships, fundraisers and membership incomes.

The survey further revealed 90% of clubs reported their financial reserves had either decreased or stayed the same, and 60% of clubs worry about participation/member retention as 40% of clubs have shared their participation decline is most substantial in the 11-18-year-old bracket.

In an exclusive interview with Ministry Of Sport, talking about the future for community sports clubs in Australia, Australian Sports Foundation CEO, Patrick Walker, said: “The future of community sports is uncertain – as our report shows more than 1 in 10 clubs fear insolvency and both participation and volunteering are in decline.”

“Financially, many clubs are teetering on the brink as not only is sport shut down, but so are traditional forms of fundraising, such as the sausage sizzle and club events.

“Our Back to Sport Fund aims to raise funds to help clubs in need survive these critical next few months,” he said.

Walker also spoke on what community sports clubs have had to do differently during these challenging times of COVID-19 that they may never have had to do before.

“Clubs have embraced technology to keep their members engaged – zoom sessions for home fitness instead of ‘regular’ training sessions for example – and are increasingly using the ASF’s digital fundraising platform to replace more outdated face to face fundraising,” he Walker said.

“We’ve also been struck by how many clubs have seen it as their duty to support members in financial hardship (despite the club’s own financial challenges) and to provide access to mental health support for members who are finding life particularly tough,” he said.

With the existing challenges for grassroots, Walker hopes the clubs will bounce back, however, it is seen COVID-19 may have a long-term negative impact on the clubs.

“We are hoping for a bounce-back in participation, as the absence of sport has brought home to many just what an important part it plays in their lives, Walker said.

“However, financially, we fear COVID-19 will have a long-term negative impact; it will take some time for revenue streams to recover, with many sponsors doing it tough and unlikely to recover quickly.

“The pandemic has already caused clubs to burn through most of their cash reserves, so many will be vulnerable to insolvency for at least the next 18-24 months, and it is vital the community pulls together to help them survive,”

“Our task now is to continue to help community sport survive COVID-19.

“Having highlighted the ongoing crisis, we want to work with Australia’s political, philanthropic and corporate leaders – and everyone who cares about the role community sport plays in our way of life – to help solve the issue,” Walker told Ministry of Sport.

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