Youth sport a long-term pandemic victim?

The potential for a generation being lost to sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic is significant, according to leading Flinders University sports researcher Professor Murray Drummond.

Sport in Australia builds communities through participation, organisation and volunteerism, so analysing how sport assists young people in developing physical and mental “fitness” through its community orientation will be the focus of new research that Professor Drummond plans to roll out by mid-2020.

“The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will forever impact sport in the lives of children and young people,” says Professor Drummond.

“Understanding the implications of the pandemic on young people and to the sporting clubs and organisations will be crucial in re-establishing sport as a central component of community agency towards the physical and mental health of young people.

“The urgency of understanding this is the key to avoiding the potential loss of young people to sport and the benefits that go with it to the individual, the community, and society as a whole.”

These concerns have been outlined in a published study – Youth sport and COVID-19: a potential generation lost, by Murray Drummond, Sam Elliott, Claire Drummond and Ivanka Prichard (DOI: 10.35241/emeraldopenres.13661.1) – that has been funded by a Flinders University COVID-19 research grant.

The call for funding to support detailed research into this matter has received additional support from the SA Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing.

“There is great support from the SA sporting community,” says Professor Drummond. “We have Netball SA, SANFL, Swimming SA locked in as partners, with a host of others in negotiation.”

Compiling detailed research will provide invaluable data for government organisations to establish funding and guidelines for providing key sporting organisations and “grassroots” clubs with the necessary resources to re-establish their sporting environments.

“There is an immediate need to limit the amount of young people moving away from sports, and the clubs that they represent,” says Professor Drummond.

“Without a seamless transition back into sport, there will be a generation lost to sport, which has major implications for physical, social and mental health as well as creating a cultural void for the nation in terms of the position in which these clubs sit within their local communities.”

Professor Drummond warns that the situation could be far worse in rural Australia, where many years of drought and this year’s catastrophic bushfires coupled with COVID-19 pandemic effects could mean that some sporting clubs may cease to exist.

“Sporting clubs are at the heart of rural Australia, but the COVID-19 pandemic could be the tipping point for many sporting clubs,” says Professor Drummond. “This research will provide invaluable insight at a time when a response is immediately required.”

Photo: Getty Images

Flinders University COVID-19 research grant scheme projects cover a wide range of projects – see topics below.

Education, Psychology and Social Work:

  • Evaluating telehealth guidelines for delivery of eating disorder therapy (led by Professor Tracey Wade)
  • Cognitive Bias Correction program as a psychological ‘vaccine’ (Dr Ryan Balzan)
  • Enhancing wellbeing among front-line health workers (Dr Dan Fassnacht)
  • Understanding mental health implications of prolonged digital media involvement (Dr Daniel King)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic as a past, present and future traumatic stressor (Dr Mel Takaringi)
  • Youth sport and COVID-19: A potential generation lost (Professor Murray Drummond)

Business, Government and Law:

  • Impacts of COVID-19 on illicit drug trafficking and supply in Australia (Professor Caitlin Hughes)
  • COVID-29 and young people’s wellbeing (Professor Gerry Redmond)
  • Self-reported risk assessment and coping strategies of CALD older South Australians (Associate Professor Noore Siddiquee)

College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences:

  • A public health system response to abortion provision during the COVID-19 pandemic (Associate Professor Catherine Kevin)
  • Cultural understandings of COVID-19 in remote Aboriginal communities (Professor Claire Smith)
  • The Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on wellbeing of individuals and households in South Australia (Associate Professor Udoy Saikia)
  • Zoonotic diseases and the biopolitics of COVID-19 (Professor Vanessa Lemm)

Caring Futures Institute – College of Nursing and Health Sciences:

  • ‘It’s just like that big flu in ‘69, but this time we’ve gotta be more careful’: Remote Aboriginal community understandings of and responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic (led by Professor Amanda Kearney)
  • Examining the strengths and needs of three cohorts of marginalised community members affected by COVID-19 isolation measures (Professor Sally Robinson)
  • Effective use of physical activity during COVID-19 (Dr Ivanka Prichard)
  • Assessing general population preferences for caring and wellbeing post pandemic (Dr Rachel Milte)
  • Effects of remote participation on retention and experiences of students with intellectual disabilities and peer mentor (Dr Fiona Rillotta)
  • Evaluation of a home telemonitoring program for patients with chronic conditions during isolation (Professor Robyn Clark)
  • Study of how parents manage family life during COVID-19 and impacts on parents’ self-care behaviours (Professor Rebecca Golley)
  • Evaluating rapid changes in allied health and nursing practice in acute care setting (Associate Professor Belinda Lange)
  • Co-design and test an enhanced FAME intervention for community dwelling older people (Professor Julie Ratcliffe)
  • Literacy challenges related to interrupted school attendance, including parent literacy support for children with developmental disabilities (Professor Jo Arciuli)
  • Interprofessional collaborative practice, using fast-tracked telehealth (Dr Stacey George)

College of Science and Engineering:

  • Sewage monitoring for COVID-19 (Professor Howard Fallowfield)
    Rapid, accurate and inexpensive SARS‐CoV‐2 detection and quantification (Professor Jim Mitchell)
    Limiting the impact of underlying respiratory conditions to reduce COVID-19 death rates (Dr Bart Eijkelkamp)

College of Medicine and Public Health:

  • The global COVID-19-COS Project: establishing core outcomes for trials in people with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 (Professor Jonathan Craig)
    Identification of SARS-CoV-2 virally encoded microRNAs as a novel diagnostic tool for COVID-19 (Professor Jonathan Gleadle)
    The Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS) in hypertensive patients with COVID-19 (Professor Claire Roberts)
    Precision antibiotic strategies to reduce duration of invasive mechanical ventilation and mortality in COVID-19 patients (Professor Geraint Rogers)
    Drugging transcription of the novel coronavirus receptor (Professor Justine Smith)
    3D printed facial guards to reduce leak from P2/N95 respirators (Associate Professor Anand Ganesan)
    The ASCOT Trial – Darwin (Associate Professor Tina Noutsos)
    Identification of high affinity serum antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 patients (Dr Jing Jing Wang)
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College of Education, Psychology and Social Work Research