COMMENT

Football

A positive pastime ... sport helps to build the confidence of children and teaches them values. Photo: Joe Armao

THERE is a certain irony that David Williamson should question the amount of funding given to sport when the play he is best known for, The Club, is about AFL.

That is not to say his rally against cuts to funding for the arts is unjustified, but if you want to compare the value of the two to Australian society then sport would receive more money - not less.

Bureau of Statistics figures show more than half the population regularly take part in some form of sport or physical recreation, which is good for the overall wellbeing of the nation as sport encourages healthy lifestyles.

Participation levels are even higher among children, helping to combat worrying childhood obesity.

But the benefits are far greater as sport can help to build self-esteem and confidence.

Sport also encourages discipline, team work and values such as responsibility and respect for officials and rules. Yet often there are not enough facilities or grounds to meet the demands of people wanting to play sport.

For example, a recent report by Leichhardt Council found that the area needed an additional nine football fields, one rugby league field and 21 tennis courts.

The same report also stated that Leichhardt had more open space than the neighbouring local government areas of Burwood, Ashfield and Marrickville.

Much of the debate over sports funding relates to the Olympics and Mr Williamson pointed out in his speech on Thursday night each of Australia's seven gold medals at this year's London Games equated to a $17 million investment.

But the fact Australia had its worst Olympics since 1988 in Seoul is also an argument for greater funding as the success of our athletes and sporting teams is good for national morale.

Even at a lower level, sport generates passion and pride among supporters and provides a sense of community for those actively involved.

And it also provides great subject matter for some of the country's best plays, movies and television shows.