Speakers at the 2012 SWB National Community Sports Conference

Australians love our sports; the thrill of competition, the warm glow of fellowship and the joys that come with being part of a team drive this passion. But not everybody gets a fair go in Australian sports today.

The second annual Sports Without Borders Our Community Grassroots Sports Conference, June 15, 2012, will explore issues around social inclusion and sport. The theme of the conference is linkages and partnerships from community sport all the way up to National Sporting Organisations (NSO).

The conference speakers will bring an invaluable pool of knowledge to the day. Our speakers will share experiences of grassroots sport up to the elite. Many began their journey working with local clubs and communities and are now working with NSOs to create major social change through sport.

Athalia Zwartz, SWB Executive Director, will focus on the necessity and power of partnerships within sport. With an extensive research, development and participation background to back her up, Athalia believes that “sport develops a sense of place and connection, life skills - it can change your perspective, but it’s also hard work.”

Clem Rodney, State Coordinator of the WA Department of Sport and Recreation’s Indigenous Sport Program, will highlight how communities can use sport to address important health and social justice issues. He believes inclusion can be achieved through sport; “Grassroots sport and active recreation play a core role in promoting healthy and vibrant communities. Sport can be a vehicle to promote and address many social and environmental issues in the community.”

Sue Crow is an advocate for opportunities for females in sport. She was the first female appointed to the AFL’s Game Development Department and is now General Manager of Community at the Melbourne Heart Football Club. She oversees a variety of innovative and inclusive programs, such as the “Girls with Heart” program. Sue will bring invaluable knowledge to her presentation and share her unique experience of women’s sport.

For 25 years, Anna-Louise Kassulke has been involved in sport and recreation for people with a disability at a local, state, national and international level.  Currently the Service Manager of Gold Coast Recreation and Sport Inc., Anna-Louise has seen the organisation blossom from being volunteer-based to having 52 paid staff and over ninety sport programs within the community. Anna-Louise believes that quality of life can be enhanced through sport and the opportunities it provides; “We must continue to build communities where no-one walks alone, but everyone walks as one of us.”

Sport is a major trigger for promoting social inclusion within communities and cannot be ignored. The SWB 2012 conference speakers, with a theme of ‘Linkages and Partnerships’, will demonstrate the facts about Australian sports and help those attending the conference to discover the solutions to creating more inclusive community sports clubs.