Sport

Regional Sport Victoria study profiles COVID-19 club concerns

By Alex Mitchell

A Regional Sport Victoria study has profiled the concerns of sporting groups as they exit the COVID-19 shutdown, with the organisation calling for the community to bind together to get things back on track.

After speaking with about 400 of regional sport's key community leaders, RSV recently released an interim report outlining the impact felt by clubs, with that information to be shared with state sporting associations and local governments to help shape any potential assistance that can be provided.

While the report said the major concern of clubs was the wellbeing of its members and volunteers, many said they were finding it tough to follow the additional safety requirements to return to training, with plenty of extra pressure being placed on volunteers.

The RSV study also found the extra requirements were costing clubs more at a time where they were already facing financial hardship.

A club president found a number of problems with the situation.

“There is pressure on volunteers — especially the COVID-19 safety officers,” the president said.

“It seems like state sporting associations are putting protocols in place . . . but then there is the cost of sanitiser/gloves/cleaning, etc.

“There is also some nervousness around coverage of insurance . . . I’m not comfortable with only one person being a COVID-safe officer.”

Regional Sport Victoria acting chairman Dan Poynton said COVID-19's significant impact would require a team effort to recover from.

“It’s vital that the sport and active recreation sector work collaboratively to support our regional communities,” he said.

“There is going to be a need for an integrated approach to supporting our regional clubs and the RSAs are leading the charge in kick-starting these conversations.

“We’ll be sharing our preliminary data and insights with state sporting associations, state government and local governments across the state.

“Ultimately, we want to see a combination of a co-ordinated, systematic approach, balanced with place-based solutions to support a return to community sport in a safe and viable framework.

“It’s vital that the sector understand not only the specific challenges regional clubs are facing, but more importantly, the differing levers at our disposal, to ensure clubs are supported during and post the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The full interim report can be read at http://www.regionalsportvictoria.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Interim-Report-FINAL-1.pdf