By Stuart Kavanagh
It has been a rough couple of years for all of us. Even sporting associations have felt the pinch of restrictions implemented during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is especially true of the Broken Hill Soccer Association.
The local round ball governing body has fallen on tough times recently, with participation numbers dwindling.
“It’s always been an AFL town,” BHSA and Broken Hill Junior Soccer Association [BHJSA] President Anita Hoysted says. In the first season of the local version of the world game since COVID, “numbers are way down. Juniors and seniors. They’re [participation numbers] quite low.” Anita went on, “Sometimes clubs simply can’t field a team.
People are sick, have work, etc.” At times things have seemed dire.
There is hope though – four recognised clubs play in Broken Hill – Wests, St Joes, Alma and Celtic – with mens, womens and junior teams, with 280 junior players alone, so the impetus is there.
And a recent change in the leadership at the top of the BHSA is set to see brighter days ahead. One of the things that the new regime would like to tackle is the association’s lack of affiliation.
“Non-affiliation to a recognised governing body is a hindrance, as we can’t go for government grants,” says Ms Hoysted.
Being affiliated would be handy for the local Association because Australian governments have a lot of funding available for local sporting clubs at both state and federal levels.
State Government sporting funds would help advance the game here in Broken Hill but until an official governing body recognises the league, BHSA/BHJSA cannot take advantage.
BHSA President Anita Hoysted says rectifying the lack of a governing body will be discussed at the end of the season.
One shining light is an uptick in the participation of women and girls. Across the country, there has been a boom in women’s sports in the last decade, and it seems it is no different locally.
“We are getting a lot more registrations from girls than boys in the junior grades,” Ms Hoysted says.
One helping hand here are the Public Sports Association (PSSA) programs in primary schools around town.
“It’s definitely being pushed through the school PSSA programs,” Ms Hoysted said.
“The exploits of our superstar Matildas have gone a long way to boosting participation numbers for girls at the grassroots level. I think the Aussie girls performing so well hasn’t hurt either.”
Whether a keen footballer or an interested amateur, there is still an opportunity to play soccer locally this season. There are openings in all age groups. Head down to the soccer grounds at O’Neill Sporting Complex, get involved and help bring the round ball game back to prominence.