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EDITORIAL: Connection key

Local footy and netball returns to the region this weekend, with Stawell hosting Ararat in a Good Friday match on the Wimmera Football Netball League fixture.

While the remainder of the league won’t start until round one officially kicks off on April 20, and Horsham District and North Central leagues on April 13 – it is certainly good to see football action at a local level begin after the AFL got underway weeks ago.

But are people really in the swing of footy season?

After reading a statistic last week that 20 percent of Australians are ‘sports-haters’, it made me think twice about the notion.

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It goes against my genetic make-up to not be interested in footy, and many other sports, as I was raised by two sports-loving parents with a wider circle of family and friends playing and interested in sports.

While as Collingwood supporters, the family chat has been a little quiet in recent weeks, most weeks our family’s conversations are heavily dominated by the topic of sport – whether it be tennis, cricket, horse racing or another game that is dominating media at the time.

When I was younger, particularly at secondary school where I attended Assumption College Kilmore – back then a school heavily-focused on participating in sport – I used to think it to be quite bizarre if someone I met did not support an AFL team.

But as I get older – and have experienced life and other cultures – my eyes have been opened to the fact there are other interests and hobbies in life that don’t involve sport. 

And guess what? Millions of people enjoy these ‘other’ activities.

According to surveys by The Conversation that found sport haters account for about 20 percent of the Australian population, the demographics of this group are significantly more likely to be female, younger and more affluent than other Australians. It could have been caused by negative experiences as a child, social exclusion or marginalisation, sexism or racism.

I know it’s hard to fathom for some as we live in a region where the social fabric of most communities is woven through the town or district’s sporting clubs.

For many, it is such a big part of life in our region – a place to play the game you love, to meet up with friends and family, and a hub to provide a place for connection.

So to those who don’t belong to a local sporting club – you don’t even need to like or know the rules about that sport to belong. 

Every single club needs more volunteers to help continue to provide a place for people to connect, make friends and have a social outlet. 

Community sporting clubs have more far-reaching benefits than just providing fitness and enjoyment. 

They are essential for our community’s physical and mental health, providing a place to form cultural and social connection. 

I guarantee there will be a volunteer role with your name on it, no matter what your interests or skillset. 

And who knows, it’s never too late – you might just find yourself crossing over to become a sports lover, not a hater.

The entire March 27, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire March 27, 2024 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!