6 May 2021

Motion passes to future-proof funding for grassroots sports

| Michael Weaver
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Old tennis ball on decaying court at Hawker Tennis Centre

The once-bustling Hawker Tennis Centre is one of the ACT sports facilities left to decay in the decade since its closure. Photo: Gavin Dennett.

The ACT Government has given Canberra grassroots sports organisations an assurance they will no longer need to come cap-in-hand for funding to make much-needed upgrades to facilities under a motion that passed through the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, 22 April.

Basketball ACT has said it would need to find more than 50 hours of court space every week just to run competitions to accommodate the influx of teams, while Tennis ACT has had to lobby the ACT Government to get funding for urgent upgrades to some of its courts so it can attract higher level tournaments.

The motion, which includes developing a long-term strategic plan for sport and recreation in the ACT and climate-proofing sporting facilities from heat and smoke, was put forward by Member for Brindabella and ACT Greens spokesperson for sport and recreation, Johnathan Davis.

Mr Davis said the ACT Government has now been able to answer community calls for a long-term strategic plan for Canberra’s grassroots sport and recreation bodies.

“One theme that continues to emerge from the stakeholders I talk to is a very real concern regarding a lack of transparency around sports funding,” he said. “Sports bodies shouldn’t have to come cap-in-hand asking for long-overdue funding to upgrade their facilities or stay open.

“At the moment, community sports groups have to lobby the ACT Government individually for funding. Inevitably this means smaller sports bodies miss out.”

David Simpson and Kim Kachel standing on tennis court

Basketball ACT CEO David Simpson (left) and Tennis ACT CEO Kim Kachel (right) have welcomed the motion to support ACT sporting organisations. Photo: Supplied.

The motion means the ACT Government will:

  • Develop a long-term strategic plan for sport and recreation in the ACT to replace the ‘Active 2020’ plan that expires at the end of this year.
  • Develop a facilities management plan to care for existing facilities and meet community need with new facilities.
  • Climate-proof sport and recreation facilities with a focus on heat and smoke.
  • Tackle barriers to participation in sport for Canberrans facing disadvantage.
  • Fulfil the commitment in the Parliamentary and Governing Agreement to explore options to recognise a sport and recreation industry peak body to support the sector.
  • Report back to the Legislative Assembly no later than December 2021.

The Coalition of Major Participation Sports (COMPS) ACT has welcomed the motion, with chair Kim Kachel, who is also CEO of Tennis ACT, saying it is a positive step that promotes the needs of community sport.

“COMPS ACT is fully supportive of any initiative that is geared towards achieving better outcomes for community sport in the ACT and surrounding region,” said Mr Kachel.

READ ALSO Crumbling memories of the abandoned Hawker Tennis Centre

“The Greens, through Johnathan Davis, are showing they are intent upon fulfilling their commitment to the electorate and to community sport.

“COMPS ACT believes the changing nature of people’s way of life, coupled with the recent effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrates a need for increasing support for community sport.

“This need is driven by the evidence that highlights the social, health and economic benefits of citizens being involved in sporting activity.”

Mr Davis said people in Canberra are returning to sports in great numbers following the height of COVID-19.

“Now more than ever, the ACT Government needs to urgently develop a facilities management plan to care for existing facilities and meet community needs with new facilities, making sure those facilities protect participants from extreme weather in our changing climate,” he said.

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“Sports don’t just offer us fitness, but a sense of belonging, a community and a connection to one another and to nature. Being active and part of a vibrant sporting community is great for our mental wellbeing, which has been thrown into sharp focus by the pandemic.”

Mr Kachel said the motion would not stop Canberra’s collective sporting bodies pushing for more funding and facility upgrades.

“It is worth noting that while the Greens are elevating the value of having an industry representative body, COMPS ACT intends to continue using its collective effort to lead and promote community sport in the ACT,” he said.

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