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COMMENT: So much more than sport

In the heart of country life, as the football and netball season unfolds once again, a familiar rhythm returns: the early morning chill, the Thursday night sausage in bread with splashes of tomato sauce, the forgotten canteen slices, and the Sunday rush to squeeze in all washing before the demands of the school and work week swoop back in. 

Yet, amid this flurry of activity, it’s vital to recognise that sports aren’t merely about competition and recreation; they serve as crucial pillars in shaping the lives of our children.


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Within the confines of sporting communities, children learn invaluable lessons that extend far beyond the playing oval or court. 

They learn the art of collaboration, the significance of teamwork and the importance of volunteerism – skills that will accompany them into adulthood. 

But, perhaps most importantly, they learn about kindness, empathy, and inclusivity.

A recent activity run by By Five with primary schools across the Wimmera-southern Mallee yielded poignant responses regarding acts of kindness. 

Many of these heart-warming anecdotes revolved around their experiences within their sporting clubs. 

For children, a simple high-five from a senior player, a friendly greeting from a familiar face, or the gesture of inclusion from a fellow team-mate had profound significance.

The anecdotes underscore the profound impact that adults – whether coaches, volunteers or senior players – have on the lives of children within these sporting communities. 

Their actions, however small, resonate deeply with the young participants, shaping their perceptions of kindness, belonging and friendship.

In this light, it becomes imperative for adults within these settings to lead by example, fostering environments that are not only conducive to athletic development but also nurturing of emotional wellbeing. 

Every child, regardless of skill level or background, should feel welcomed, valued and supported within their sporting club.

Indeed, the goal should be to cultivate safe and inclusive spaces where every child can thrive, where acts of kindness are not merely fleeting gestures but enduring foundations upon which friendships are built and character is forged.

As the football and netball season kicks off once more, let us not only celebrate the thrill of competition but also reflect on the profound role that adults play in the lives of our children. 

Let us strive to simply be the best place to raise a child.

The entire April 10, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!