Report identifies the benefits sport brings to the Wimmera region

NO SPORT: Kaniva Leeor United are one of the many Victorian sporting clubs that were unable to participate in their sporting league due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NO SPORT: Kaniva Leeor United are one of the many Victorian sporting clubs that were unable to participate in their sporting league due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sport contributes more than $18 million to the Wimmera Southern Mallee (WSM) economy.

A Wimmera Development Association COVID-19 Community Sport Report has identified the financial and social benefits that sport brings to the community.

The Wimmera Southern Mallee is made up of areas including; West Wimmera, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Yarriambiack and North Grampians.

The report provided four recommendations for sporting club committees which aim to help clubs survive the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clubs don't want to just survive, they want to emerge stronger and better positioned for a sustainable and viable future.

Key recommendations included the need for strategic planning, strong financial management, diversification and volunteer management.

Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly, as part of their ongoing COVID-19 webinar series, has engaged subject matter experts to present on each of the four key recommendations.

Former Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly board member and consultant Katherine Colbert will deliver the first presentation, which will focus on strategic planning.

The presentation will take place on Monday at 7pm.

Wimmera Development Association executive director Chris Sounness said strategic planning was crucial to the long-term success of sporting clubs.

"Having a member endorsed strategic plan, with an articulated vision, ensures clubs are well situated to embrace new opportunities and funding streams while working inline with the club's overall purpose," he said.

The report also revealed what many residents have probably known for some time, that most committees of management consist mostly of volunteers.

Clubs such as Kaniva Leeor United are one of the many Victorian-based teams sitting out the season, due to border restrictions leaving the club unable to compete in the KNTFL.

In early June, the club asked for loyal residents to purchase a membership at a reduced price to keep the club financial viable during this unprecedented time.

The study found that many sporting clubs have an annual revenue in the range $50,000 to $350,000, with a significant financial responsibility falling on the volunteer-based committees on management.

Several Wimmera football clubs earn additional income from farm, produce or trades related activities.

The report also recognised that sporting clubs are an integral part of WSM communities and contribute many positive aspects in regards to the region's liveability.

Sporting clubs provide a strong sense of community and belonging for people of all ages and backgrounds, in many different ways ranging from sport participation to volunteering and spectating.

Clubs can also provide a social hub for regional and rural communities that can promote social connection, resulting in positive mental health impacts to the region.

With many Victorian towns without community sport for at least the rest of this year, these workshops will prove vital as clubs look to come out of this pandemic bigger and stronger.

The webinars occur fortnightly. People can register through the Wimmera Regional Sports Assembly website at: https://wrsa.org.au/covid-19/