Play still some way off for community clubs

May 21, 2020 BY

U9, Armstong Creek, Sharks, AFL, football

THERE is much uncertainty surrounding when and under what circumstances community sporting clubs will be allowed to resume play.

Professional sporting leagues are gradually forming a more definitive picture of when they may restart, with the National Rugby League (NRL) recently announcing their intention to begin play on May 28.

Yet director of Deakin Sport Network and Professor of Sport Management David Shilbury said due to the unique obstacles faced by community sport, it may have a longer wait to endure.

“There has been some talk of community sport restarting, but I think it is still quite some weeks away.

“The advantage that the professional sports have is they can play in stadiums that you can lock people out, so they can control the environment, whereas on a local park or netball court that’s very difficult.”

He said local sport subsequently needed more assurances of the virus’s containment than in professional leagues.

“I think they’ll wait until they’re confident they have the virus under control. I don’t believe you’ll be able to control the social distancing measures at clubs.”

Many clubs are struggling due to them not being able to generate income in the usual way.

Professor Shilbury said despite the difficulties community clubs were faced with, he believed their long-term future was stable.

“My sense is that once sports begins back again community clubs will get up and running again pretty quickly.

“Community clubs, unlike professional sport, are not reliant on all the commercial factors. Parents, mums and dads, volunteers, players and coaches come together because they love the sport, love to play, love to participate and they make it happen. So, I don’t believe it will take long for community sport to get going again (once it resumes).”

The absence of community sports has seen a rise in physical activities where social distancing is more manageable.

Professor Shilbury said these trends may continue even after restrictions ease.

“People have rediscovered individual physical activities that they may have otherwise taken for granted or forgotten about. So in an odd way, it’s kind of reconnected people to physical activity out of need.

“How that translates back to participation in their favourite sports remains to be seen. But I hope this is seen as a distinct positive and to remind people of the importance of being active.”