Pandemic takes a toll on sports clubs

Braybrook like many other clubs have been affected by the pandemic. (Damjan Janevski)

Tara Murray

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on sporting clubs, with some unlikely to survive according to a new report.

The Australian Sports Foundation last month released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on community sport, as a follow up to a report produced last year.

It found many clubs continue to suffer severe financial losses and that there has been a profound negative social impact with participation continuing to decline and the crisis was impacting volunteers.

The average lost revenue per club was found to be $18,5000 and 42 per cent of clubs surveyed cannot source enough volunteers.

New Braybrook Sporting Club president Anthony Dunlop said it had been a hard couple of years for all local sporting clubs.

“It was tough in 2020 when there was no sport at all and we were completely shut down,” he said.

“We got some sort of season this year, but for some people it was even worse with the unexpected.

“You plan major functions, do outlays and then they get shut down and you lose some of the initial outlay.”

Mr Dunlop said the club had merchandise it had purchased still sitting in the rooms, while it had to throw out some food.

He said the pandemic had made it even harder to get volunteers involved.

“We were struggling for volunteers as it is. Who wants to tell someone that they aren’t able to head out to the half time huddle.”

For the club, the pandemic has halted the momentum it had been gaining. After a number of tough years, the club was coming out the other side.

It had been looking to re-establish a junior program after not having one for several years.

“It’s had a huge impact on numbers,” Mr Dunlop said.

“One of our last games was against a club that is four streets away from us and they’re in a similar situation, but worse.

“When you’re not sure what is around the corner, you don’t know whether you want to be involved.

“There’s a lot of disheartened players and it’s impacted their mental health.”