From the Clubrooms - 'Growing the sport in a growing state'

Well Edition 2 of from the Clubrooms definitely did cause some discussion. I appreciate the kind words that I have received from many. This column is an opinion piece, and it is intended to get people thinking and considering the different ways that we approach this sport in the state. I welcome any productive views that others in this great sport can present.

My question for this week is about growth of participation in the sport. It is clearly evident that in recent years our sport has been growing and that participation numbers are on the rise. But are we actually losing market share to other sports in WA, and are we capable of accommodating the growth in population that WA has been experiencing?

We all know that WA is experiencing rapid population growth and that this is forecast to continue for some time. In fact, the State Government population projections forecast a growth in the Perth Metro population of 550,000 over the next 15 years.

So with all of this population growth, where has our recent growth in the sport been coming from? Has it been that the sport has been getting more popular? Or is it a case that we are simply taking our share of the population growth that is occurring?

Everyone in the sport wants to see the sport grow, but there are a number of constraints to doing so. Referee numbers are stretched. And it is a similar story for domestic coaches. Court space in many areas is fully booked during peak periods, and generally our volunteer numbers are low. This concerns me, as it seems that our growth is often based on the growth of venue availability. Given the constraints of funding new stadiums, this can be very detrimental to growth numbers when we do eventually reach capacity at existing venues during peak times.

Basketball WA and the Perth Wildcats both do a great job in getting out into the schools to promote the sport. Basketball Australia has implemented the Aussie Hoops program. And many Associations in WA run some great programs to keep participation numbers growing. But a lot of this is lost if we cannot attract the coaches, referees and infrastructure to maintain the growth in the sport.

There are a number of different views as to how to grow the sport. Is it better to promote the league through our high profile NBL/SBL players? Is it better to promote the game through the schools and getting to kids at an early age? Or is it better to advertise and introduce new programs to encourage new players to the sport.

At the moment we have many efforts moving in many different ways. Would the sport be better placed if we had a growth framework that assisted in this regard and ensured that growth was sustainable?

Finally, are we doing enough to appeal to the new residents of Perth and to accommodate the working conditions associated with our FIFO population? Just last week West Perth Football Club announced that they will play the "international round" of the WAFL with the Union Jack on their jumper. Are there new competitions that we could introduce that would encourage FIFO workers and their families to participate? Given our strong representation in Country areas we may be well placed to tackle this issue.

We would love to hear your thoughts as to how to "get the word out there", so that we can all work together to grow the sport for the benefit of everyone. If you have a great idea lets work together and make it happen!

Ryan Hunter
Wanneroo Basketball Association

The opinions, views and comments in this article are those of the individual and are not the opinions or views of the State Basketball League or Basketball WA.


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