ACT parents get the help they need to level the playing field

Tim Gavel 22 April 2020
Variety Every Chance to Play in action

Variety Every Chance to Play involved in a demonstration basketball game (pre-COVID-19). Photo: Tim Gavel.

Memories of Saturday morning sport are the highlight of many a childhood, but as families deal with the economic consequences of COVID-19 – especially unemployment, underemployment or small business distress – many families may have to drop sport to make ends meet.

Sport isn’t cheap. Equipment, uniforms, the cost of travel and registration fees all add up. That’s where Canberra charities like Variety Every Chance to Play come in.

Variety Every Chance to Play provides funding to families unable to pay sporting registration fees and it’s expecting to be swamped with requests for help when sport resumes.

Thanks to funding from private donors, Variety Every Chance to Play Director Matt Topham says his organisation has paid the registration fees for more than 600 Canberra children since its establishment in 2017.

This year they were planning to provide funding to at least 200 Canberra kids including refugees, the children of unemployed Canberrans and other marginalised groups.

That was before the economic hit of COVID-19. They expect demand to be much higher now.

Despite this, Topham is optimistic that there will be a positive to come out of the shutdown of Canberra sport.

“On average it costs $250 to register a child in sport in the ACT. The hope is that clubs and sporting organisations will re-assess their costs during the shutdown as the cost of registration has been getting higher and it doesn’t need to be,” Topham said.

Clubs and sports organisations across Canberra need to be applauded as they do what they can to assist people unable to meet the costs associated with playing sport.

However, sports organisations are themselves under immense financial pressure with the drying up of sponsorship so their capacity to help is reduced.

The ACT Government’s sporting stimulus package will help sports remain afloat during the pandemic and emerge in a strong position once it’s over.

The ACT Government has injected $3.3 million, including the waving of sports ground hiring fees for all bookings from mid-March through to September.

Peak ACT sport and recreational bodies will be provided $700,000.

Canberra sports groups, including Volleyball ACT, have welcomed the stimulus.

“I have been encouraged by the pro-active nature of ACT Government’s Sport and Recreation. Their response has been really good; it’s been thorough and it’s been prompt,” CEO of Volleyball ACT Adam Castle said.

The expectation is that the package covers all sporting organisations in Canberra, many of which are run by volunteers.

Some sports are concerned about the business downturn and what it means in terms of sponsorship, which in turn impacts participant costs such as registration fees.

It is why organisations such as Variety Every Chance to Play expect to be inundated once organised sport is up and running again in Canberra.

There is also an expectation that sports organisations will be doing all they can to address the challenges, such as the cost of registration.

Variety – the Children’s Charity supports kids who are sick, disadvantaged or live with a disability. To support their services or apply for financial support, visit Variety.

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