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Sport researchers team up with industry leaders

Thursday, 07 May 2020

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A group of School of Education researchers has convened a major forum for industry and community representatives to discuss the role of informal sport as part of a prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Grant Project.

More than 50 representatives attended the forum on 11 March, hosted by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries, as part of the “Informal sport as health and social resource for young people” research project conducted by academics in both Victoria and WA.

Convened by ECU researchers Professor Dawn Penney, Dr May Carter and Eibhlish O’Hara, the forum examined challenges and opportunities around expanding participation in informal sport.

Informal sport refers to individuals and groups self-organising and often using social media to come together and participate in a wide range of activities, including informal cricket, soccer, football, roller hockey and many more.

The researchers have found that while participation in formal, club-based sport continues to see flat or declining participation trends, informal sport is on the rise in the community.

“Informal sport holds particular appeal for people who may be marginalised from other forms of sport,” Professor Dawn Penney observed.

“Social connectedness and a sense of belonging are key appeals of informal sport.”

The forum connected representatives from across local governments in WA, state sporting associations and community organisations.

Attendees discussed their experiences, debated issues associated with policies, logistics and resourcing, and shared their visions for future planning.

“We are very pleased with the success of this forum and with the positive connections and relationships fostered between a range of organisations,” Professor Penney said.

“We look forward to further engagement with the local government and sport sectors and are excited about exploring some new possibilities in the future.”

Led by Associate Professor Ruth Jeanes at Monash University, the research project is being undertaken in collaboration with ECU and Victoria University, with funding from the ARC and industry partners VicHealth, the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (WA), the Centre for Multicultural Youth, and Cricket Victoria.

The three-year research project will support government, sport and health agencies to develop new policy guidance and resources to grow and sustain informal sport opportunities, particularly for diverse young people.

For more information about the forum or the project work in WA, please contact Professor Dawn Penney.

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