A Latrobe Heath Innovation Zone initiative.
GippSport was the auspice agency delivering this project through its consulting arm, GippSport Community Solutions.
We would like to specifically acknowledge Dr Erica Randle, Research Fellow for the Centre for Sport and Social Impact at Latrobe University who provided context, insight and consultation support throughout the project.
to that section
pressures in sport - barriers/solutions
A consultation phase that sought to better understand who we are targeting and what is stopping them from participating in sport?
- Supporting the traditional sport club model to develop effective strategies to retain and engage youth participants
- Identifying potential other sport-based interventions that could increase the access of youth to sport in the regions and supporting the sport sector to develop and implement these interventions.
Why are we doing this and what do we already know? Identifying the problem and understanding the youth in Latrobe City
What sport is currently being offered in Latrobe City?
Implement solutions, review, modify, and monitor outcomes
What can be done? Potential solutions and implementations
- Nine out of 10 Australian 12-17 year-olds do not meet the Australian Physical Activity guidelines of 60 minutes of physical activity every day
- Latrobe City’s participation rate of 18.55 per cent ranked 34th among Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Victoria in 2018
- While participation in all forms of physical recreation is encouraged, this project focuses largely on traditional, structured, competitive formats of sport, as defined by Active Victoria
Active Victoria defines sport as “involving structured, competitive activity, while active recreation can be defined as leisure time physical activity undertaken outside of structured, competitive sport”. Many people in our community who would benefit from involvement in sport and active recreation are underrepresented and have significant barriers to their participation. We know sport and active recreation play’s an important part in the lives of all Victorians. It provides a setting for health and wellbeing practices, prevention of chronic disease, social interaction, sharing common interests, achieving personal bests, and community inclusion.
And while all forms of participation are encouraged, for the purpose of this project, we will focus largely on the traditional, structured and competitive formats of sport, per the project brief.
We know that a number of barriers exist that stop young people, particularly low socio-economic young people, from participating in community sporting clubs. We know there are various references to support this. What is absent is a collation of these findings and an extensive consultation process with the end user, young people, sporting clubs and relevant stakeholders (parents, carers, associations and supporting entities).
What is missing are evidence-based interventions to the identified barriers and solutions derived from the direct feedback of these young people and these stakeholders. Through comprehensive consultation, we hope to deliver a process that produces sound and evidenced outcomes supported by wide ranging survey and direct feedback, and findings that may better inform proposed solutions, expenditure and program development. Findings will directly feed in to the project framework, evaluation and future solutions to identified barriers, to inform local agencies, expenditure and programs in the Latrobe City area.
With a population of over 74,000 people, Latrobe City is Victoria’s only eastern regional city, estimated to increase by an additional 12,000 residents to 86,000 by 2031. It is the residential and commercial hub of a larger catchment of 262,000 people stretching across the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland region. In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 11.93% (8,901) of the population were aged between 10 – 19 years.
In 2017, a joint report by VicHealth and Sport and Recreation Victoria outlined the two key findings and insights from their research into organised community sport participation in Victoria.
The Youth Participation Project Research (YPP) was undertaken for Sport Australia in 2017 by Latrobe University’s Centre for Sport and Social Impact (CSSI). The 18-month project worked with eight national sport organisations and 100 secondary schools across Australia to investigate why youth disengage from sport and how delivery of sport could be improved to increase engagement and retention in the secondary school. Three relevant findings were to ensure to:
Interestingly, no one organisation had an up to date database of the sporting clubs operating in Latrobe City. We utilised a number of older databases to develop our mapping spreadsheet. An observation would be that clubs often do not maintain their contact details, current opportunities on either websites or social media platforms which in itself is a key area that could be improved.
Phase three sought to elicit direct feedback from three core groups in the Latrobe City area: youth themselves; those involved with sport; and other non-sporting groups who were involved in supporting youth (click the icons for more information). The consultation process used three main data collection sources:
Targeted interviews were conducted with key stakeholders to provide information on the current context of sport and youth in Latrobe City, proposed solutions to the youth in sport issue, and potential challenges and impacts of implementing proposed solutions.
Workshops and focus groups were held with key groups to provide a further understanding of the reasons youth disengage from sport, and what potential solutions could be implemented.
In short, sport becomes everything youth don’t like with very little of what they do like. It becomes more stressful at a time when they are beginning to feel stressed in all other aspects of their life as well.
Why does the sport sector think youth disengage from sport?
Depending on the sport and the context, the age at which youth disengaged varied from 11 – 17 years of age. There were five main items discussed by the sport sector as to why this occurs:
Non-sport community groups perceived that youth were motivated to play sport by the social connection to clubs and community, health, fun (if the experience was a positive one), and to participate in something that is part of the social norms of the area.
Why do non-sport organisations think youth disengage?
There were four main items discussed as to why youth disengage:
What do non-sport organisations think are the potential solutions?
Solutions from this group were wrapped around overcoming these barriers. This included:
- Providing more affordable opportunities and access to transport
- Providing a socially safe environment at clubs where youth would feel welcomed
- Providing non-competitive or non-authoritarian opportunities
- Providing support to parents to support them with caring responsibilities
- Highlight role models or provide visual representation (e.g. marketing and promotion photos to represent the diversity in the population )
Cohort 1: Sport lovers who can’t make it work
Cohort 2: The social players
Cohort 3: Not interested
Youth in this cohort talked a lot about the challenges of balancing their time between school work, employment, family commitments, socialising, and sport. Specific examples that made sport participation most challenging were when sport games were scheduled at different times and different locations each week meaning that they could not develop a study or work routine that impacted on their own wellbeing and performance as well as their employability (i.e. employers were less likely to roster them on if they kept having to change their working hours around sport).
Youth in this cohort talked of real-life experiences of being made to feel uncomfortable, judged, or pressured while playing sport by club coaches, administrators, parents (their own and others), and other players who were more focused on a culture of winning and performance. The grading of players was particularly disturbing for this cohort, and their perception of traditional sport was that it favoured a few of the top players in the team while making everyone else feel insecure and less valued.
Below is a summary of the key influences that impact youth engagement in sport, and the potential solutions for each. They have been categorised into two main themes:
- Sport structure
- Sport opportunities, and the social and psychological pressures in sport
- Youth should be empowered and consulted throughout the solution design and implementation process
- No one solution exists, and therefore a multi-pronged strategy that addresses social, psychological, and environmental barriers to sport should be adopted
- Strategies should include solutions that address the barriers to sport that are influenced by key stakeholders (i.e. parents, clubs, coaches)
- Strategies should target youth who currently participate in sport but are at risk of disengaging, and those youth who have participated before but have now stopped, and who retain a positive attitude toward sport.
willing to drive youth sport in the area
(i.e. AFL and Basketball) to lower insurance costs
car-pooling or community bus
indigenous and other youth from diverse populations
to ‘try something new’
sport facilitator behaviour
area and increased diversity to
better reflect the community