Illustration: Cathy Wilcox
MICHAEL CLARKE, Benji Marshall, Cadel Evans - these are the names that fire the ambitions of Australian children. However, children from developing countries just want a career in medicine, a global study has found.
The dominance of sport in the Australian psyche shows no signs of abating with the upcoming generation.
And, if they cannot star on the sporting stage, it seems any stage will do, as long as they can dance, sing or act.
Want to be like Mike? ... Australian cricket team captain Michael Clarke. Photo: Getty Images
A survey of 6200 children aged 10 to 12 by the charity group ChildFund Alliance found that 20 per cent in Australia nominated becoming a professional athlete as a top career goal. This compared with just 4 per cent in developing countries.
Children in poorer nations aspired to be doctors, nurses, dentists and teachers. The survey found 27 per cent of children in developing countries said they wanted to be healthcare professionals and 24 per cent teachers. In developed countries, it was just 8 and 5 per cent.
''Australian children are pretty attuned to the sports-mad culture we have,'' ChildFund Australia's chief executive, Nigel Spence, said.
''Professional athlete is the highest ranked career choice for Australian children followed by entertainer and professional artist or creative professional.
''Music and acting and other artistic pursuits, probably influenced by popular TV shows, are probably a factor.
''This contrasts with kids in developing countries. They have so few sporting opportunities or artistic opportunities so for those to be career choices is just not in their frame of reference.''
The survey also found climate change was a much greater concern for Australian children than their peers.
Fifteen per cent of Australian children said they were concerned about climate change, compared with 2 per cent of children in developing countries.
Children from 47 countries took part in the survey, with 123 Australians responding.