Bid to boost regional sport in SA as volunteer and participation numbers drop
, 2023-01-24 22:40:31,
Tony Elletson believes South Australia’s Limestone Coast can be the best regional area in Australia for producing elite athletes.
Through the Limestone Coast Sporting Academy, he trains young people in the region to compete in their sports alongside the best in the state and country.
But he knows local grassroots sport is the starting ground for everyone, from AFL stars to Olympic competitors.
“We have a look at areas like Ballarat and Wagga Wagga, they’ve got a huge history of producing Australian competitors, whether it be cricket, footy or whatever,” he said.
“The key to having any higher level success is making sure you’ve got a strong base.”
Like many regional areas in Australia, local sport has taken a hit as people live busier lives and player and volunteer numbers drop, with a study last year finding volunteering hours had dropped 19 per cent nationwide.
The sporting academy in the state’s south-east is set to launch a $300,000 investigation into local sport to find the best ways to promote top athletes.
Mr Elletson said finding ways to strengthen sport at the grassroots level was vital to the future of local athletes.
“I think even before COVID we were probably struggling with young people between 14 and 20 where they drop out, start looking for jobs and travel to Adelaide for university,” he said.
“There’s a lot of other…
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