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“The benefits of community team sports on younger generations”
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“The benefits of community team sports on younger generations”

Community based sports initiatives in Australia are offering young people fun and improved health, while also defying the expectations of older people, writes Amanda McClintock, 19, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Queensland.

Across Australia and the world, sports are considered very highly as a profession, entertainment or social activity. Whilst there is a group of elite few who are chosen to play at a professional level, either nationally or internationally, there are also millions of people who play cricket in their backyard or throw around a football with some mates.

However, for at least 100 young people in north Brisbane, Wednesday night touch football has just kicked off a new season. The weather might be warming up but the enthusiasm that these young people demonstrate is inspiring to watch.

City Touch, a local Brisbane organisation, has recognised the importance of staying active and being involved and as such runs a social touch football competition three nights a week in ten venues across Brisbane throughout the year in an effort to get young people off the couch and into playing sports in a team environment.

Although many of the older generation see sports as a waste of time, there are several benefits to community based sports programs for both the participants and their families and friends. With over 4,000 participants, City Touch has become one of the most popular social competitions around.

But what are the benefits to playing in this environment? Firstly, there are the obvious health benefits. Every week thousands from the Brisbane area do 40 minutes of exercise during the game, plus any training or warm-ups that they might do. Even this one evening of exercise can improve health and fitness levels and reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease in the future.

Secondly, it is a relaxed atmosphere for people to enjoy each others’ company, make new friendships and have a good time in a safe environment. Without the complications of organising venues, without the extreme costs of professional sports and the time commitments that ensue and without the need for any real talent for the game, people of all ages are free to give it a go and enjoy the experience in front of them.

For someone who is not very confident or coordinated when it comes to sports, it is the perfect avenue to give it a go without all of the pressure and expectations of professional teams. Another benefit is that the competitive side of the organisation gives young people a goal to work towards. Upon the realisation of this one small goal and the achievement of playing 13 games a season, it sparks off the process of aiming higher and being able to both identify and plan to achieve the goals each person may have for their own lives, as well as giving them something to look forward to on a weekly basis.

One of the biggest benefits to young people is that City Touch competitions are a safe environment away from the temptations of drugs and alcohol. It provides an avenue for young men in particular to work out their excess tension and energy into something productive and healthy rather than channel it into violence and law breaking.

Community sporting programs have so many benefits to the whole community it seems only sensible that more towns and cities employ these same ideals and goals into their own communities to reap the benefits that these programs have to offer. With a sense of friendship and community associated with health benefits and educational experiences, it seems that City Touch have touched down on a successful and beneficial idea for the individual, the team, and the wider community.

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About me:

“I am a working-class girl, full-time university student and mental health advocate from sunny south-east Queensland.

“Living in a small country town after growing up in the city only increased my passion for making a difference in my community and further afield, and for speaking up about the issues that matter most. Youth have a voice and it needs to be heard. Stand Up, Speak Up and Be Heard!”

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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