Tens of thousands of young people who want to play sports in NSW are missing out due to a lack of funding and facilities, according to community sports groups.
A report from Sport NSW, Playing Catch Up, set the group’s agenda ahead of next year’s state elections, calling on both sides of politics to pledge an additional $8million in funding community sport.
“Just $1 per person in NSW, an additional $8 million a year, would make a major difference in funding sport,” Sport NSW chairman Chris Hall said after the report was launched on Monday.
Core funding for state sports organizations has not changed since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, resulting in a reduction in funding in real terms of 67.1%, according to the report.
Organizations representing different sports in New South Wales receive between $5,000 and $60,000 per year, depending on the number of participants.
NSW has fallen far behind what other states are investing, with basketball for example receiving $55,000 a year compared to over $400,000 in Queensland.
Basketball NSW chief executive Maria Nordstrom said there was an estimated shortfall of 136 courts in Sydney alone.
“We can see the correlation between participation and available space.
“We know that around 10,000 children miss our sport in NSW every year,” Ms Nordstrom said.
Sports Minister Alister Henskens said the government had committed more than $1 billion for community sports infrastructure since 2017.
He pointed to initiatives such as “Active Kids” vouchers which provided two $100 vouchers to parents to help defray the cost of sports and recreation.
“There has never been so much funding given to grassroots sports organizations,” Henskens said.
Sam Fricker, who represented Australia in diving at the Tokyo Olympics, said people who wanted to try diving were being turned away as facilities at Sydney’s Olympic Park were unable to keep up with demand.
“There are so many people who really want to come and dive, but we just don’t have the opportunity to get them into the pool,” Fricker said.
“Sydney Olympic Park has everything we need, it’s just always crowded.”
Over the weekend, the government announced a $100 billion funding boost for the development and modernization of sports facilities, with 39 projects receiving between $1 million and $5 million.
Projects funded include a major indoor sports facility at Lane Cove on Sydney’s north shore, improvements to the Lauren Jackson Sports Center in Albury on the southern border and a regional sports facility at Olds Park in Penshurst, southern Sydney.
Mr Hall said the additional funding through grants was welcome, but the bulk was for facility upgrades, leaving gaps in the cost of running that had to come from “funding base sometimes meager”.
Labor Party sports spokeswoman Julia Finn accused the government of having no comprehensive statewide strategy or plan for the development of grassroots sport in NSW.
“We want young children to enjoy sport as much as possible in an accessible and affordable way – not sitting on devices because there’s no ground for them to play on,” she said. .
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