Community sporting clubs like Sydney’s Newtown Breakaways are counting the cost of COVID-19


“They give us a couple of vouchers for players’ player of the week and in return, we’ve got 60, 70-odd people showing up to the pub and we put so much money back. They let us go in on Fridays to do meat raffles – they provide us with the meat, or a veggie box, to raffle off and in return anything we make, we get to keep.”

The Salisbury Hotel is the major sponsor of the Newtown Breakaways, but their co-dependency has been cruelled by COVID-19.

But like all pubs, the Salisbury has had to close. That’s bad for them and for clubs like the Breakaways who depend on small businesses to keep the floodlights on and help recoup up-front costs.

“They are slowly coming back into it, but we obviously can’t expect to help us out too much financially, because they’re probably in bigger trouble than us,” Ms Chen said.

In the Southern Highlands, the local basketball league is also facing threats. The Moss Vale and District Basketball Association, that caters for 650 players, estimates approximately 80 per cent of pledged sponsorship has been lost.

If the winter season does not go ahead, it could cost them a further $20,000.

“The financial impact of this pandemic has hit us hard,” said Paul Barcicki, the association’s director of assets and sponsorship.

“We fear for our sport … being an indoor contact sport, we are concerned it will be some time before we can resume normal operations. If other sports can resume earlier, we fear that we risk losing some of our players to other sports.”

These are but two examples of what the Australian Sport Foundation sees as a major crisis unfolding in the community.

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There could be further pain, too, as likely new hygiene and cleaning requirements for grassroots sport and facilities will add to the cost burden, while the capacity of players to keep shelling out for registration fees will be reduced.

The foundation is launching a national campaign to raise not only awareness, but money to help these clubs and organisations recover. A survey, accessible at covid.sportsfoundation.org.au, has been established to help quantify the impact before the foundation engages with philanthropic sources and government for relief.

“This is going to be a long-lasting problem that’s with us for a while, and the fix is going to take a while, but we’re going to be on the fundraising track as soon as we’ve got the data in from this survey,” foundation chief executive Patrick Walker said.

It could take up to six months for their work to come to fruition – but in lieu of the usual sausage sizzles, meat raffles or social events, Mr Walker said there are other ways for stricken community clubs to seek financial assistance.

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“We have an online fundraising platform where everybody can sign up, and for supporters who want to donate to a club through the ASF, it’s tax deductible,” he said.

“Lots of people are suffering, but there’s actually a big chunk of the community that’s doing fine – not spending much money, income unchanged, working from home.

“They’re the people who would be willing to help members less fortunate … maybe with rego or a subsidy, or make a donation to help their club survive.”

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