Reach Gymnastics has called on members of parliament and local community leaders to get behind a request for a one-off Victorian Government grant to help it and dozens of gymnastics clubs around Victoria recover from the coronavirus.
To help clubs re-open, Gymnastics Victoria – the recognised peak body for gymnastics – has appealed to Victorian sports minister Ros Spence for a $2.4 million grant to be shared among Reach Gymnastics and 127 clubs around the state. Funds would be used to support clubs’ re-open and re-connect with 400,000 Victorian gymnasts whose sport shut down by COVID-19 earlier this year.
Reach Gymnastics has been hard hit with staff and volunteers stood down or having hours reduced, and connections with participants eroded and transitioned to engagement online where possible.
“Coronavirus has devasted gymnastics, and as our community starts to re-open we need help re-connecting with our participants of our sport so that gymnastics can safely re-open and start to resume its place as one of the most popular health and physical activities in the state,” said Reach Gymnastics owner Rebecca Tilley.
“We’ve written to local government and members of parliament to urge them to back our request for help and are hopeful the Victorian Government will support our sport getting back on its feet. Our club has a best-practice COVID Safe management plan so that we can confidently resume activity when it is safe to do so.”
Most of the annual revenue of the $188 million gymnastics industry has already been lost because of COVID-19 restrictions and the 36 weeks of organised activity and competition that has been unable to proceed since the virus crippled the sport. To address this, Gymnastics Victoria is seeking state-wide authority to safely re-open, in line with the timing of schools re-opening across Victoria
Rebecca Tilley said there were numerous reasons for gymnastics – as Victoria’s fastest growing sport – to receive support.
“Victorians are well-aware of the social and economic consequences of COVID-19 thanks to saturation of social and mainstream media coverage of the pandemic. They are now increasingly aware of the physical impacts on young Victorians who have been less active during unprecedented restrictions on movement and organised competition.
“For our sport, this translates to 160,000 hours of physical activity lost every week since the pandemic took hold, equalling 5.76 million hours over the 36 weeks this year our gymnasts have been inactive, additional to thousands of lost hours during events our sport generates for young Victorians,” Rebecca Tilley said.
Gymnastics can play a key role in keeping young Victorians fit and active, and with less than 40% of children reaching Year Four having the necessary skills to actively engage in organised sport[i], it is critical for the government to support its re-opening.
“With the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of children aged 5-17 – 80% of whom do not meet the 60 minutes of recommended physical activity every day – it is little wonder one in three Australian children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025[ii],” Rebecca Tilley said.
“This emerging health crisis explains why today’s children may be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents and underscores the importance of government support of our Club and our sport.”
In addition to the health and wellbeing benefits of gymnastics, Gymnastics Victoria has also outlined other reasons the government should support its funding request:
- Connectivity – Gymnastics Victoria has a close alignment with over 2,500 coaches, judge members and volunteers who are passionate about gymnastics. Four out of five (82%) of this cohort are female and three out of five (63%) are under 25;
- Economic Contributions – With 60% growth since 2016, gymnastics is one of the fastest growing sports in Australia. Clubs and participants can play an enormous role in Victoria’s COVID-19 economic recovery, evidenced by the over $38 million spent directly and indirectly on the sport annually; and
- Life Skills & Confidence – More difficult to measure are the impacts on confidence, foundation and life skills participants learn through involvement in gymnastics. Resilience and strong cognitive abilities are by-products of organised competition, underscoring the importance of supporting a pathway back to gymnastics.
Rebecca Tilley said without government support, decades of time and effort spent building an active and sustainable gymnastics network is at risk, which will have enormous physical and social consequences for thousands of young Victorians.
“We need this one-off grant so that our Club and dozens of others across Victoria have the best possible chance of recovering from COVID, and so future generations of young Victorians can have a structured, safe and professional gymnastics experience.”
For further information contact Rebecca Tilley on 03 5943 0368.
[i] New South Wales Department of Education, 2008
[ii] VicHealth, 2019