“For us, diversity in sport is survival,” said Trish Marson from the Noble Park Junior Football Club, during a special presentation at the Youth Sports Forum 2018 and official launch of the Participation versus performance: Managing (dis)ability, gender and cultural diversity in junior sport report.
Trish’s presentation detailed the “open communication” and “learning and relearning” the club undertook to go from a “5 member team to a 20 member winning team”.
The Participation versus performance report is the culmination of a four-year study funded by the Australian Research Council and conducted collaboratively by Victoria University, Swinburne University of Technology, Curtin University and Monash University, in partnership with the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), Australian Football League (AFL) and the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY).
Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins, officially launched the report at the Youth Sports Forum at the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre in Melbourne.
Kate started by detailing how sport was an intrinsic part of every aspect of her life – her work, her family and her passion projects. She is the convener of the National Male Champions of Change group (established 2015), and the Co-Chair of Play by the Rules, a joint project between human rights agencies and sports commissions to make grassroots sports safe, fair and inclusive.
“Coming from a corporate background, I feel this report makes a strong business case for sports clubs and organisations to open up to more diversity in their ranks,” she said at the launch, heralding the policy recommendations in the report as “important strategies for making junior sport more inclusive”.
“Change doesn’t take time, it takes action,” she said.
Apart from Trish and Kate, participants also heard from Shadia Haidar, mother of two young children who play sport; Megan Rouse, Operations Manager at Collingwood Basketball Association, Fadi Qunqar, Youth Settlement Worker at Arabic Welfare and Onell David, a newly-arrived Year 11 student from Craigieburn Secondary College.
The afternoon saw breakout groups discussing practical strategies around two main themes – How might sport create more opportunities for those that have no money?; and Diversity with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The insights gained from these discussions were both informative and empowering.
The Age coverage of the report: Diversity a boon for junior sports but clubs under pressure to perform