The number of children playing sports is steadily declining as parents across New South Wales struggle to pay their children’s dues.
Rising fuel prices and rising interest rates also mean that junior clubs across NSW are suffering from declining attendance. “The rising cost of living is putting a strain on families paying for their children’s sports. The average cost to participate is about $970 a year,” says leading child psychologist Michael Cargregg.
“Add to this the cost of fuel, food and other living expenses, and some families have been forced to reconsider spending money on organized sports for their children.”
Joanne Scanlon, general manager of Cricket NSW’s Community Cricket Experience, said several events contributed to the decline.
“Cricket and the sport’s attendance figures as a whole have been affected by many factors over the past few seasons, including wildfires, floods and of course Covid-19,” she said.
Excessive screen time in children of all ages reduces active play time and affects health.
“Remote learning, our reliance on mobile phones, consoles and laptops, and the associated immersion in social media and gaming, are leading to a more sedentary lifestyle that many struggle to get out of. says Carr-Gregg.
“Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the stress response and lessen the effects of feel-good hormones.
“Active children are physically and mentally healthier and do better in school.”
Climb Fit’s Sarah Josephsen says visitor numbers have dropped.
“Many people are feeling the effects of the rising cost of living, and sporting activities can be the last thing they do,” she says.
“Climbing not only builds strength and flexibility, but it also helps with things like self-confidence and problem-solving skills.”
Children’s participation in football has also declined since the pandemic, forcing Football NSW governing bodies to work together to address the problem.
“Our goal is to improve pre-pandemic participation rates, and to get there we are investing in new community facilities, increasing participation initiatives, and implementing new leadership and development programs.” says Northern NSW Football’s David Eland.
According to Scanlon, Cricket NSW has embarked on “an ambitious plan to double the number of participants in the 5-12 age group over the next three seasons”.
“This season has gotten off to a really good start, partly because volunteers and clubs have been encouraging the use of Active Kids Vouchers,” she says.
Cassie Gill, mother of three and president of Riverstone Little Athletics, said the vouchers provide financial support to help families enroll their children.
“Using vouchers, families can save over 60% on registration fees,” she says.
“Sport is vitally important to all children who participate, regardless of age. Children should be encouraged to participate in sport every week, all year round.”
Customer Service and Digital Government Minister Victor Dominero said Active Kids Vouchers are very popular with families and junior sports clubs across the state.
“Whether your child is an avid cricketer or an avid netball player, now is the time to enroll in summer sports with an Active Kids Voucher,” he says.
“We have improved the application and redemption process for parents and providers with a digital version of the voucher available on the Services NSW app.”
To apply or find a registered activity provider, please visit: service.nsw.gov.au
https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sports-clubs-suffer-due-to-living-costs-covid-lockdowns-and-increased-screen-time/news-story/7870dc7b5f6152287f40cd9326bccbca Financial support to keep children in sport