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New club alliance strikes a chord

In the history of musical alliances and supergroups, there’ve been more misses than hits. We’ll happily concede that.

However, all told, they’ve probably got a bit of an unfair wrap.

Before you jump up out of your seat with musical outrage, don’t forget that Cream and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and sometimes Young) were amazing. And while The Traveling Wilburys might’ve done more, you still hum ‘End of the Line’.

But, in a neat segue, what about community alliances?

Glad you asked…

A first-of-its-kind

Last month, grassroots leaders from the Canterbury and Hurlstone Park communities in NSW came together to create a first-of-its-kind ‘veterans sporting alliance’. 

The Canterbury Hurlstone Park RSL Club (CHPRSL), in partnership with Veteran Sport Australia, led a forum involving local community organisations. The aim of the forum was to work out how to better connect with veterans living in the area through sport. 

Organisations that came together included sporting clubs, primary and secondary schools and local government.

The room was full. And buzzing.

A flowing forum

During the forum, community leaders broke into different workshop sessions to share their experiences of working with veterans and to identify some key challenges.

Ideas started flowing straight away.

Carla Stacey, from the Inner West Council Office of Sport, was part of the forum and was impressed by how keen everyone was to come together to play their part. “There’s no doubt that community organisations from right around Australia need to do more to connect with our veterans,” said Carla. “We’re just at the start of our journey but we’re already looking forward to meeting with local veterans and trying out some new ideas that’ll encourage everyone to get involved in local sport.”

Getting the band back together

It’s not the first time that community organisations in the Canterbury area have come together to get active though. They have form.

In 2014 CHPRSL developed the Cooks River Sporting Alliance, bringing together local schools and sporting clubs to address the 30-year decline in children’s participation in sport. That group went on to create the ‘Carnival of the Codes’, which is in its sixth edition and still going strong, with some 1,300 local school students getting the chance to try out a half day of multi-sport activities every year.

Paul Kougias is very much the ‘drummer in the band’. Paul works for CHPRSL and VSA, runs the Carnival of the Codes and facilitated the CHPRSL ‘veterans sporting alliance’ forum. “We’ve got a great community here and when they heard about the challenges facing our veterans and how they could play a part in making things better, they jumped at it,” said Paul. “In the lead up to the forum I met with more than 50 local organisations to talk to them about getting involved and contributing their ideas. The response has been fantastic.”

Leadership in the community

Dean Thomas is the CEO of CHPRSL and has been the driving force of working with the local veteran community. Dean opened the forum and has been instrumental in converting talk into action.

“There’s a real opportunity for Clubs to play a central role in bringing together our community and taking the lead on issues of veterans’ wellbeing,” said Dean. “The Invictus Games in Sydney last year was an amazing event and showed the power of sport and the level of goodwill out there. Clubs played a huge part in supporting veterans through Invictus and now we’re looking to do the same in our local community every day.”

Exciting next steps

Coming out of the forum, a smaller working group was formed and has already met for the first time. One of the first challenges for the working group is finding out how to best reach veterans living in the area. From there they plan to connect veterans and their families with a full range of local sporting opportunities.

This is a community alliance that’s definitely going places. In the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: “Carry on”.

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