Although they can’t get on the field, clubs still have a vital role to play in recovery

According to an Australian Sports Foundation survey, about a quarter of the nation’s 70,000 grassroots clubs may not survive beyond 2020. The foundation estimates that local clubs have lost around $1.6 billion to the pandemic to June, and these losses will continue to escalate.

Should these sporting groups fail to survive, the implications will reach far beyond kids and adults not playing sport. In the disaster management world, the journey to normal after a disaster is referred to as recovery. Locally, a large part of the recovery will be returning to work and enjoying our local sports and community groups. Local communities may find returning to normal or recovering difficult without their community sporting clubs.

The survey mentioned shows the devastating impact the cancellation of community sport will have on the future viability of its grassroots clubs. Any loss of these clubs will also affect the morale of the local community. Victorians have already faced multiple crises in 2020; drought, fires, floods, COVID-19 and now an economic recession.

Due to COVID-19, we are currently unable to congregate in large groups. Hence, just as the business community has been forced to adapt, so too must Australia’s grassroots sporting institutions. This inability means that sporting organisations will need to be creative in two ways. First, when it comes to their finances. Second, when it comes to fostering a connection with their community.

Although the 2020 season has been cancelled for many now is a terrific time to examine opportunities and ensure your club’s viability, and build community spirit. Sponsorship, 2020 memberships and fundraising such as selling apparel should all be considered as a means to see out the remainder of this year and prepare for next season. Remember not everyone in the community has fared poorly during the pandemic and they will help their beloved local sporting clubs when asked. Just ask them!

Clubs must continue to do the fantastic work they do off the field and prepare for life after the pandemic. With some community input and some creative thinking, they will help their communities just as much as they are helping themselves in recovery from COVID-19.

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