Australians love sport. It is a defining characteristic of our national culture – one that is recognized across the world. In sport Australia’s diverse population discovers a shared identity. We come together to play sport at local ovals, fields, courts, parks and beaches. We flock to great stadiums around the country to watch the contest. We celebrate and exude national pride when our athletes represent us on the world stage.

The numbers are compelling. Approximately 6.5 million Australians participate in organized sport and 7.6 million attend live sporting events each year. Ninety-two per cent of adult Australians have an interest in at least one sport, and six on average. Importantly, 2.3 million people volunteer time for sport each year – the largest volunteer group in the country.

Whether it is for the friendships, the fitness, the thrill of the competition or the pure love of the game, sport is important to Australians.

Sport is good for Australians. It makes us a healthier nation both physically and mentally. Sport reduces the incidence of chronic disease, including obesity –related illnesses, diabetes and cardio vascular disease. Physical inactivity is a well-known and growing problem in Australia, with over 13 000 deaths attributed to it annually and more than 45 000 new cases identified each year. Recent research estimates a financial benefit of $434 million to the economy if physical inactivity could be reduced by 15 per cent by 2018.

Sport also helps to build our confidence and self- esteem, and reduces our crime rates. It helps to develop stronger communities, bridges cultural boundaries and improves our international relations. Sport also improves our academic performance, our social lives and creates an environment where all are equal. Sport is an economic driver in Australia, with a workforce of over 2.4 million people and generating more than $12.8 billion in annual income.

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) want to see more sports thriving so it is easier for more Australians to choose and play the sports they love. Their ambitions for sport are simple:

At the national level the ASC wants to see more Australians – particularly young Australians – participating in sport more often.

At the individual sport level the ASC wants the sports they invest in to achieve year-on-year membership and participation growth

To achieve the above the ASC want sports to be effective organizations – well- governed, strategic, embracing of commercial opportunities, adopting new technologies and delivering user-friendly sports opportunities that Australians want.

Australian Sports Commission participating game plan: PLAY. SPORT. AUSTRALIA