A key aspect surrounds the sporting club environment and how a club’s volunteer administrators and wider community can better engage with families from the outset. The great challenge is to improve positive behaviour from everyone involved in sports clubs by promoting information based on evidence-based research – but without imposing further pressures on timestrapped volunteers and parents.
Associate Professor Elliott believes technology can provide convenient and effective solutions and ensure research outcomes are acted on. Rather than trust that pamphlets or brochures are being read by parents and club volunteers, he is broadcasting research-based solutions for community sport through a podcast series, Beyond The Club, which he hosts with Sunday Mail sports columnist Ben Hook. With 40 episodes created – touching on such hot topics as concussion in sport – the podcast has registered more than 6,000 streams across Australia and around the world, with hits in the US, UK, India and Japan, all the way to Lithuania, Poland and Israel.
“The fact it reaches an international audience means the information is translational – but to me it’s most important that any parents who hear this information can use it and apply it immediately. It’s a timeless resource that sports clubs can point to and parents can keep accessing as they need this important information.”
Associate Professor Elliott believes this all helps parents and clubs to maximise sport participation, which can go a long way to reducing the economic burden of physical inactivity in Australia, estimated to be $555 million each year. He says it will also translate to better quality parental involvement in their children’s sporting activities.
“Whatever a parent’s contribution or capacity is, we want to see them optimise their impact and do what they do well,” he says. “It’s not about increasing their time, or introducing further pressures, but improving the quality of their involvement – and research shows that children benefit from that, in both social, psychological and developmental ways.
“It all underlines that youth sport can and should be vibrant, safe, sustainable and welcoming.”