Sport still crucial for giving kids good start
MURRAY Rogers believes inter-school sport is crucial for children's development and should be recognised as just as important as the other essential subjects.
"We need to identify it as a key aspect of schooling," the Australia Day OAM recipient said.
"It should never be underestimated."
While he is keeping up his end of the bargain, Rogers is sorry to see participation waning outside of schools.
"The junior sport elite is as good as or better than it's ever been," he said.
"But there are larger and larger numbers whose skills sets are not what they have been in the past.
"Kids are not playing as much on the weekend, in the backyard or down the street.
"More than 70% have not played sport before they do at school."
The reasons are multiple, with kids spending more time indoors, as well as restraints on parental time and costs.
"With a seven-day work roster and parents working on weekends, for a lot of kids Friday at school is their sole sport," Rogers said.
The other hindrance is rising costs, which is also affecting school sport.
"Our biggest problem is the cost of transport," Rogers said.
"The cost for buses has escalated significantly in the last 10 years.
"It's very expensive to send teams away."
Getting teachers to show the passion that Rogers has had for the past 30-plus years is another challenge.
"Instilling energy in teachers to get involved is getting harder," Rogers said.
"They're usually very well-credentialed academically, but not involved in sporting teams or programs.
"There are certain constraints, such as Workplace Health and Safety, accreditation for teachers and coaches, blue cards and level one coaching certificates.
"It's made it a safer system, but far more bureaucratic."
Some things never change however, and Rogers knows given the opportunity and guidance, kids will continue to embrace sport.
"Opportunity is as important as anything," Rogers said.
"Kids will play any game as long as they have the opportunity to be involved, it is structured, well organised and has a competitive aspect.
"Kids want to play against other schools and test their skills against other kids."