The Commissioner for Children and Young People's More Than a Game report reflects the perceptions and experiences children and young people have when it comes to sport.

The report brings the voices of more than 1,500 young South Australians to the forefront and captures their suggestions for how sport can be more inclusive for all, regardless of their age, ability, confidence, access to resources, culture, gender or sexuality.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the key findings from the report...

The best things about sport:

  • Having fun with friends and meeting new people.
  • Being part of a team and a community and belonging.
  • Feeling energised, fit, strong and free from stress.
  • Healthy competition and learning how to win and lose.
  • Building strong values and developing ‘life skills’.

The worst things about sport:

  • Not being or feeling ‘good enough’ to enjoy sport when it’s too competitive and there’s pressure to ‘be the best’.
  • Difficulty balancing sport with schoolwork and other commitments.
  • ‘Cliquey’ and sometimes ‘toxic’ culture of clubs.
  • Gender stereotypes, discrimination and gender inequality.
  • Cost of playing sport and difficulty getting to and from sport.

What makes it difficult for children and young people to get involved and stay involved in sport?

  • Limited opportunities to ‘play for fun’ or to start playing as you get older.
  • Pressure to balance sport with other priorities, responsibilities or interests at school, home, work or socially.
  • Bullying and exclusion based on skills and ability, age, size, gender, sexuality, race, or cultural background.
  • Pressure from coaches, parents, or peers and a lack of encouragement or positive role models.
  • Significant costs including transport, clothing and equipment costs.

What would help more children and young people play sport:

  • Do more to ensure sporting environments are fun and inclusive for everyone, no matter a child’s or young person’s ability, skill level, cultural background, size and appearance, gender identity, sexuality, or capacity to commit.
  • More flexible scheduling and expectations and understanding young people’s lives at home, school, work and socially.
  • Reduce or in some cases remove the costs of participation in sport.
  • Engage with young people directly by listening to what they say motivates them and what turns them away from sport, and be willing to adapt to expectations, policies or practice accordingly.
  • Ensure a variety of opportunities are made available at school and in the community for a range of ages and skill levels, including true ‘beginners’ or those who just want to play ‘for fun’ with friends.

The full More Than a Game report can be accessed here.

A resource for sporting clubs with some simple ideas on how to improve engagement with children has also been developed which gives more details about the following:

  • Some questions for an Annual Coach Survey.
  • How to organise an “Off Season Club Chat” with your junior players.
  • Ideas for your annual awards and presentations.
  • Simple things that make your club inclusive and welcoming for all.
  • Thinking about affordability.
  • Open and continuous communication.