SWB conference raises integrity of sport

Written by Katie Smith from Reporter’s Academy (a media production company run by young people). 

Sporting organisations around Australia are currently facing a number of challenges, from falling participation numbers in some grassroots sport, to the wide use of performing enhancing drugs at an elite and community sport level.  Add to that the declining numbers of volunteers and there is a big job ahead of sporting organisations to remain relevant and be socially inclusive.

On Friday, 3rd of May, Sports Without Borders held their third annual conference at Moonee Ponds Race Course. The conference gave sporting organisations an opportunity to learn from the experts on how to face these challenges and prepare themselves for the future. The major themes of the conference were innovation and integrity of Australian sport.

Participants heard about the impacts of gambling, performance enhancing drugs, racism and sexism and how sport needed to address these issues within the community to raise its levels of integrity. Grassroots sporting organisations received valuable information and advice on how to boost volunteer numbers, generate more income from council funding and general tips on how to market themselves. From grassroots to elite levels #swb2013 also taught sporting organisations how to raise rates of participation.

The Minister for Sport, The Senator Hon Kate Lundy said that sport was the strongest platform to bring down racial and social barriers and promote social engagement. She also said there is an increasing number of females and refugees who want to play sport, and we must lower the barrier-to-entry for these groups by decreasing ‘red tape.’

The Great Debate explored the topic “Australian sporting groups are letting the team down with ineffective financial and organisation management and poor engagement practices.”

Representing the affirmative side was Steve Horvat; a retired soccer player and advisor to the Melbourne Knights FC Board and Rita Panahi; a media commentator and SEN host. The opposition was represented by Professor Russell Hoye; the director of the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at Latrobe University and Kelli Underwood; a radio and television journalist for ABC and sportscaster.

The debate was one of many highlights of the day with humorous comments and thought provoking arguments. The eventual winners were the talented opposition who convinced the interested audience that sporting organisations were indeed doing a great job at managing sport.

Another highlight was the presentation by Stephen Tighe, a futurist and demographer, who explored the latest sporting trends, the impact of materialism on society and in particular its effects on sport. He explained that one of the most influential effects on sport participation was ‘time poverty’, however, the future looked brighter with the decline of materialism and the increasing ‘valuing of time’.  He suggested that if people worked shorter hours, they might spend more time involved in sport.

Other presenters included Kristina Keneally ex. NSW premier and current Chief Executive Office of Basketball Australia, Josh Vanderloo Community Participation Manager for the AFL, Brett De Hoedt founder and Mayor of Hootville, Patrick Skene, Director of Sport and Media for Red Elephant Projects and Richard Ings Former CEO and Chair of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Drug Authority.

The presentations were both practical and informative and gave participants valuable insights and strategies for improving aspects of their operations.  Topics covered included innovation in volunteering, how to market yourself better to improve your image and appeal, ten tips to help you innovate your group and preserving the integrity of sport for future generations.

The event was a huge success as evidenced by the many positive comments heard during the breaks.  All participants now enthusiastically await the fourth edition of the conference in 2014!

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'The Great Debate' will be available shortly.