It’s been a strange year, to say the least. Over the past months we’ve all had to adjust to new habits that this time last year we would have found at worst unthinkable, at best laughable. “Lockdown” used to be something that only happened on Big Brother or Survivor, now it’s part of all our experience.
At Premier Awards we’ve witnessed the shutting down of sports comps, and now the reopening of many of those same comps–and it heartens us that despite doing it tough many of the clubs are committing to their usual full range of awards, including participation awards.
“It’s important to give these kids recognition in sport at a time like this,” one of the club managers said, which reflects our belief that the awards aspect of a club is part of the lifeblood of that club. How can we be so sure of this belief at a time like this? Because the pandemic, if it has done any good at all has brought into stark relief the things that really matter to clubs.
Let’s have a closer look at those things that matter.
Like us, you’ve probably been hearing quite a bit in the media about the effects of this year on our children–shut inside for so much more of the time and spending increased, sedentary hours in front of screens, and less time in organised sport and other forms of physical exercise. Although the obesity rates of Australian children have remained fairly stable for the past decade, they remain concerningly high. In 2016 the Australian Sports Commission chair stated that “Obesity is one of the core problems of our communities and we believe an increase in sport-in-education will reduce childhood obesity and create adolescents and adults who will lead healthier more active lives.” He also said that the need to “run, throw, kick, catch and jump” should be considered in the same category of importance as learning to read and write.
So, getting our kids out of lockdown and back to sport has been pretty important in terms of their bodies. Add to that the social and mental aspects of extended isolation (concern has been expressed especially in light of Victoria’s second lockdown, that families will need greater mental health support) and you can see how the simple act of being part of a team can lend tremendous support to a child. This year’s awards night at the end of the season might look different to other seasons, with social distancing, hand sanitiser and face masks, but the recognition of effort and achievement is as important as ever—actually, we would argue that it’s more important. After a scrappy year at school and less physical exercise and social interaction with peers than usual, club sport can give our kids a much needed boost that affects all aspects of their lives. If on awards night participation trophies can help be the glue that rebuilds some sense of a sane and normal community for our children then we are right behind it.