5 min read

Exclusive: “There’s An Appetite For Innovation And Change”


In an exclusive interview with Ministry of Sport as part of the ‘Brand Break’ series, Vicsport CEO, Lisa Hasker, discussed the return of community sport from COVID-19 and the flexibility and innovation required for success in the post-COVID-19 world.

Explaining the outlook for the full return to sport and the opportunity for community sport to play a vital role in returning interest and participation in sport, Hasker suggested sporting organisations and participants remain flexible and be innovative where possible.

“I’m hoping we’re near the end of the tunnel, we’re back and competing, there’s still some hurdles to jump and restrictions and people getting COVID and locked out of competing or officiating for a little while,” Hasker told Ministry of Sport.

“It was nice to watch the Winter Olympics and see some elite sport on TV following so close from Tokyo.

“There’s a lot of excitement and we’re wanting to look at the positive side and keep going with sport to get back to normal as much as possible.

“Coming out of COVID, our focus is community sport, but the main thing for sporting organisations from community sport to elite sport is to be really flexible and offer different products.

“What has come out of COVID is people want to see something different, they want to try something different.

“They aren’t keen on doing the same thing they’ve always done, there’s an appetite for innovation and change so we need to be ready for that from a sports organisation point of view.

“From a participant point of view it needs to be the same, go try some new things, new sports, new activities, and also be patient around the delivery of those things because it is tricky still with different bits and pieces that have to be followed with COVID rules.

“The major thing is, be patient and innovative and we will all move together and get people back to sport, grow the numbers again, and encourage more and more people to be active, after a long time, particularly in Melbourne, of people sitting at home and not being able to do much,” she said.

When asked what role the organisation will play in the planning and success of the 2026 Commonwealth Games if they are awarded to Victoria, Hasker said: “At the moment, because they’re just in an MOU process, we are just excited and hoping it turns into a successful bid.”

“We will be talking to organisations about making the most of that opportunity due to the evidence of past Games, particularly when they are at home, membership drives are more successful, and people drive into sport and physical activity.

“We want to be ready, and we need to be ready for the fantastic reaction to those sports and the fact it may be based in regional areas will be fantastic with opportunities for upgraded facilities and upskilling officials and getting more people involved in sport.

“It’s all positive and we will be working in the next little while to make sure people are ready and hopefully the announcement we are actually having it will come very soon,” she said.

Following the recent announcement from Vicsport the nomination process for the 2021 Victorian Sport Awards (VSAs) has opened, with the goal of celebrating and recognising the contributions from athletes, participants, teams, coaches, administrators and volunteers across all levels of sport in Victoria in 2021, Hasker said there is a lot to celebrate from 2021.

The VSAs are set to deliver awards across 19 categories in June, returning to the event’s full capacity with an in-person event planned.

Discussing the upcoming event, Hasker said the current focus is ensuring all the right people are nominated for deserving awards.

“The major focus has been COVID over the last couple of years and supporting people through understanding the rules and getting back open and moving on as we are now,” Hasker told Ministry of Sport.

“There’s a bit of excitement coming up in June for the Victorian Sport Awards that we run in consultation with the Victorian community sport minister, Ros Spence, so we will actually have something to celebrate this year.

“We’ve had the Tokyo Olympics and sport that’s a little bit on and off, but better than the year before.

“The really exciting thing is the fact we’ve got a full set of awards this year and we’re celebrating a full year of sport.

“We really want people from elite right through to community to put through nominations so we can celebrate the good things going on at the awards night.

“There’s a lot of work going on to make sure all sports clubs know about the awards and can nominate the right people.

“We then have a rigorous judging process and work towards a series of finalists and the awards night where we award winners for all 19 awards.

“It’s awesome when nominations come in and you begin to really see all the fantastic things people do in sport, whether its supporting small local clubs or winning medals at the Olympics,” she said.

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