NEW ROLE:  Fraser Coast Chronicle  sports editor Brendan Bowers.
NEW ROLE: Fraser Coast Chronicle sports editor Brendan Bowers. Alistair Brightman

Meet the Chronicle's newest Sports Editor

ALLOW me to introduce myself, as the new sports editor of the Fraser Coast Chronicle.

My name is Brendan Bowers and I have lived on the Fraser Coast for the past two- and-a-half years.

I am passionate about all things sport, including administration, competition, volunteers and the social value it brings to our community.

It has been a whirlwind first two weeks in my new role. The opening of a new sports precinct, quality local sport and meeting many of the hard-working administrators and volunteers who are involved in Wide Bay sport.

One sporting topic I hear about every day and which I have seen first-hand is the decline in traditional sports participation and team numbers within our regional communities.

Over the past few weeks in the Wide Bay, we have seen the Maryborough Bears AFL Club failing to nominate a senior side to the Wide Bay Men's competition, the Isis Devils Rugby League Club withdrawing from the Bundaberg Rugby League and the Wide Bay Buccaneers Football Club removed from the Football Queensland Premier League.

Any person who has been involved in regional sport over the past few years would know this is not a new phenomenon and not isolated to the Wide Bay region.

We have all heard the reasons for declining numbers - change of lifestyle, shop trading hours being longer, having to move away for work or education, afraid to be off work injured and in particular the general lack of time.

Sport plays an important role in regional centres.

If we lose sport we lose a little of our community identity, social interaction and sense of place. Present society is about instantaneous results with the advent of social media and other media platforms.

We want and expect the ability to read or observe news, sport or any other event as it happens or shortly there-after.

Does this also apply to sport?

I believe that it does, with people being time-poor.

Many of us don't have the ability to commit to the accepted norm of two nights training and a day participating in sport each week.

Our present lifestyles and commitments just don't allow it.

While numbers in traditional senior sports are on the decline, one-stop sports such as Oztag and touch football have steady or increasing numbers.

Hervey Bay Touch Football president Jodie Houliston said "Our number of teams are steady, but I can say teams on average that had seven players a year or two ago now have 12."

Houliston also believes one of the issues is that people are spoilt with choice.

"Where once there were only a few sports for people to choose from each season, there are now a lot more options."

Oztag is also showing an increase of participation, with new teams and players joining regularly.

Queensland Rugby League Central Division regional manager Rob Crow understands the challenges faced by regional centres.

"Lifestyle dynamics have changed over the years with work and study commitments. The QRL are working with the leagues and the clubs to adapt to suit their situations. This may mean combining teams or clubs or adjusting how competitions run."

AFL Wide Bay president Anthony Stothard agrees.

"Twenty years ago, people worked Monday to Friday and perhaps Saturday and sport was part of their week. Now people work seven days a week and with extended hours."

Wide Bay Buccaneers general manager Peter Guest says "We need clubs to work with regional or representative bodies for the good of their sport. We need to grow and foster the connection with the clubs to make this happen."

Cricket has adapted to the changing times, with the advent of 50- and 20-over cricket formats while still holding true to the traditional way they play the game.

Moving forward it is imperative that national, state and regional sporting bodies work strategically on models that cater to the needs and wants of their participants and members.

Sporting organisations may have to revolutionise their sports to different style competition and training models or the alternative is the death of their sport in regional communities.

 

Please send your comments or thoughts on this story to: sport@frasercoastchronicle. com.au