A surge in the number of South Australians playing cricket has highlighted the need for increased State Government investment in the facilities of community cricket clubs.
Statistics from the Australian Cricket Census for 2014-15 reveal the number of people playing cricket in South Australia in the past three years has increased by almost 40,000 and that participation in the sport has exceeded 100,000 for the first time.
“Sports Minister Leon Bignell needs to explain how he can justify spending $150,000 of public money on overseas travel but only $130,000 for improving the facilities of community cricket clubs according to the latest statistics,” said Shadow Minister for Recreation and Sport Tim Whetstone.
“With Minister Bignell allocating just $1.30 per cricket player per year I think he needs to spend a little less on ministerial travel and allocate a little more to community cricket clubs.
“Minister Bignell also needs to explain whether this year’s $3.5 million cut to the Community Recreation and Sports Facilities Program will further reduce funding available to community cricket clubs.”
The most recent State Government funding figures show that community cricket clubs requested almost $400,000 in grants in 2013-14, but only received $130,134.
The number of South Australians playing cricket has skyrocketed, reaching almost 105,000 participants in 2014-15, despite community clubs being denied almost 70 per cent of State Government funding requests.
Mr Whetstone said the demand for grant funding from cricket clubs reflected the increase in participation.
“It is great to see South Australia cricket participation continue to grow, particularly with the rise of female involvement to almost 25 per cent,” Mr Whetstone said.
“The Census showed there are 33,583 people playing club and community cricket in South Australia, rising by 4.6 per cent, and participation in school cricket also jumped by 16.6 per cent.”
Mr Whetstone said in order for continued growth in cricket, strong investment in infrastructure was essential.
“If cricket participation continues to outgrow expectation, the State Government must invest in adequate infrastructure,” Mr Whetstone said.
“The key challenge for South Australia is to ensure the interest in cricket at a school level is converted to club cricket and to do that, investment is required across a number of levels.”