In another of our special reports on the 2018 Commonwealth Games, the Queensland Government has argued they’ll inspire a generation of young athletes.
But others say more needs to be done at a grassroots level to achieve that.
Jenny Archdall reports.
Elite sport is booming in South East Queensland with $320 million invested for the 2018 Commonwealth Games alone.
This significant public spending is partly justified by the state government because of an expected positive impact on grassroots sport.
Kate Jones, Minister for the Commonwealth Games: “One of the key objectives of the Commonwealth Games for our long term legacy is to have more Queenslanders participating in sports. For example I’m a patron of a little athletics club, they always say that after any Commonwealth Games or Olympic Games you actually see a boost in people joining Commonwealth Games sports.”
But achieving this may be more complicated than just having Queenslanders watch the games.
Tuning in to the games is practically a national sport in and of itself but does watching elite athletes in action really get people from the couch to the sporting field?
Locals had mixed opinions.
VOX 1: “Watching sporting events like the Commonwealth Games really inspires me to get out and get active more.”
VOX 2: “I’m a fan of the games, but I, it doesn’t really inspire.”
VOX 3: “Maybe I might be motivated for a little bit but after the games are finished I’d probably be back to my normal lifestyle.”
Research suggests local sporting clubs will need to put in extra effort to turn this interest into participation.
Dr. Alana Thomson, Expert in Sporting Legacy: “So we need to be careful in in what we’re in how we’re judging the events and what we’re expecting from them um there is an opportunity there where lots of local clubs will see increased interest and if those clubs are prepared for that increased interest then they’re more likely to see more people participating in their sport.”
But a lack of resources may stand in their way.
Dr. Alana Thomson, Expert in Sporting Legacy: “We also need to understand legacy doesn’t happen automatically and legacy is not free. So if we want to have sustained sporting participation off the back of an event, or sorry, in the lead up to and off the back of an event we do need to make sure that there’s adequate resources there to support um development of experiences, training of volunteers and coaches and promotion of sport as well.”
Politicians however, remain steadfast about the impact on local sport.
Kate Jones, Minister for the Commonwealth Games: “Every grassroots sport organisation I’ve spoken to has welcomed having world class infrastructure here in South East Queensland for the first time. I mean the sixty million dollar velodrome here in Brisbane. They wouldn’t have a brand new velodrome in Brisbane if it wasn’t for the Commonwealth Games.”
But London Olympics showed investment in sport participation is far from guaranteed and numbers dropped following the 2012 event, despite its goal to “inspire a generation”.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games organisers will hope they can buck the trend.
Jenny Archdall, QUT News.