New podcast to give community sport the edge

Player retention, coaching strategies, player mental health; these are among the many issues impacting community sporting clubs across Australia that are also the focus of university research that sometimes attracts little public attention.

Now, a newly launched podcast will bring research into the main public arena and make it more accessible to the broader sporting community.

Beyond the Club, produced by the SHAPE Research Centre at Flinders University, is co-hosted by former cricketer and coach-turned-journalist Ben Hook, alongside Dr Sam Elliott, researcher and lecturer in youth sport at Flinders University.

Each month, Ben and Sam will explore sport research that is directly relevant to community sporting clubs – from players and coaches, through to volunteers, administration, and umpires. Topics will include strategies for clubs to bounce back from the global pandemic, through to current research advice about improving mental health fitness among youth sport participants.

“Many of the pervasive challenges that community sports encounter are carefully researched locally, nationally and internationally and yet researchers have often struggled to communicate this knowledge to the general public,” says Dr Elliott.

“Every day, there are researchers across Australia looking into how sporting clubs can keep their best players, how to get more girls and women in to sport, or the role of parents in a young athlete’s life – just to name a few. However, research has fallen well short of having a real impact because it has been written for a scientific audience, is locked behind paywalls or subscriptions, or is misunderstood altogether.

“Essentially, many of the solutions to the prominent issues in community sport are situated in the published literature and our podcast is just one way in which we will be able to make these ideas accessible to community sport.”

Podcast hosts Ben Hook and Flinders’ Dr Sam Elliott (second and third from left) with the Beyond the Club production team.

Co-host Ben Hook, winner of the South Australian Cricket Association’s Bradman Medal in 1997/98 and 2006/07, says he wished he had access to the information Dr Elliott and his team will provide in the podcast during his own playing days.

“We’ve been working on this project for just a few months, but I’m already so excited by the cutting-edge information we’re about to share,” says Mr Hook.

Beyond the Club is an innovative initiative funded by the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing, in partnership with Flinders’ SHAPE Research Centre, C2M Marketing, the Sammy D Foundation and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. The partner organisations will help bring the podcast to the South Australian sports community through their networks, community engagement programs and participation on the podcast.

Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing Corey Wingard says the project has been funded under the Partnerships Program – a new grant program which aims to leverage partnerships with multiple organisations to build a more active state.

“Under our Game On strategy to get South Australians moving, we’re exploring innovative ways to shift the dial on activity levels – and supporting the Beyond the Club podcast is another great initiative which helps us achieve that,” says Minister Wingard.

“Making research more accessible to the sporting community will go a long way in assisting sports to identify the changes that will support the growth of their clubs, resulting in more people participating in and enjoying sport.”

Funding from the Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing will allow research to be conducted into the impact of the podcast, ensuring it can remain relevant and accessible for community sporting clubs.

The podcast was recently launched at the 2nd Youth Sport Summit held at Flinders University.

The aim of the summit was to energise and inspire stronger partnerships between researchers and the sport industry, with this year’s event theme being “Sporting clubs of the future”.

Beyond the Club is now available on Spotify, Apple Music and other podcast suppliers.

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College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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