SPORTING clubs across the Central Highlands need to be more flexible and agile in a bid to both and entice keep teenagers involved in physical activity, a grassroots expert says.
Sport Central chief executive officer Michael Flynn said competing time commitments to education and work, teamed with increasing independence were key barriers in this region to teenagers playing sport. Mr Flynn said they want choice and they want social structures.
A World Health Organisation report, released on Friday morning, shows about nine in 10 Australian and new Zealand adolescents were not doing enough physical activity.
The global study found more than 80 per cent of school-going teenagers did not meet WHO standards for at least one hour of physical activity per day. Girls are moving less (85 per cent) than boys (78 per cent) aged 11 to 17.
Australia was one of the worst performers, ranking 140 out of 146 nations.
Report authors fear the majority of adolescents worldwide were putting their health and future well-being at risk. They call for urgent policy action to increase physical activity, particularly among girls.
Mr Flynn said Sports Central had adopted a strong focus the past couple of years on teenagers, women and girls, and sports for people with a disability.
It can be difficult for some clubs to adapt structure with social sport and not take away from traditional sports.Michael Flynn, Sport Central chief executive officer
"The choice and options available to young people is greater than ever. There are more recreation and groups than before, so these are exciting times but this also presents challenges," Mr Flynn said.
"It can be difficult for some clubs to adapt structure with social sport and not take away from traditional sports...There is a growing role for Pilates and yoga and local clubs are offering a base for this.
"The lifestyle and recreation needs of regional communities continues to change. Clubs have an important role to play to offer their community new ways to participate and engage in sport in order to maintain active lifestyles and to stay connected."
Mr Flynn said the boom in women's sport exposure in international and national arenas meant there were far more grassroots alternatives and inspiration for females than a decade ago. Sports Central's role is to help build on this across the Central Highlands.
Coasting for Teens, run in partnership with Surfing Victoria, expanded its Ballarat introductory sessions this season following strong demand and booked-out sessions on Lake Wendouree the past three years.
Mr Flynn said Ballarat cricket programs were also a great example in adapting to get more females in the game from junior teams to senior cricket, in Ballarat Bolts, and the social sixers competition.
Rock Up Netball and three-on-three basketball are also increasingly popular programs in Ballarat with low commitment and, particularly in netball, a focus on no judgement for girls.
The WHO report found moderate or vigorous physical activity for an hour each day could help adolescents improve cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone and cardiometabolic health, and positive effects on weight. There was also growing evidence that physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive development and socialising.
The report viewed physical activity to also include recreation and sports, active domestic chores, walking and cycling or other types of active transportation, physical education and planned exercise.
Deakin University's Jo Salmon, who is also Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition co-director, is calling for the Australian government to develop a national framework and to invest in evidence-based solutions to get more teenagers moving.
Professor Salmon said for all the federal money spend on youth sport, the results on Australian teenagers was alarming - particularly with a rise in physical inactivity among boys (84 to 87 per cent from 2011 to 2016) while the rate for girls remaiend stable.
Meanwhile, VicHealth chief executive officer Sandro Demaio visited Ballarat last week to meet those leading successful club programs linked in with VicHealth campaigns like This Girl Can, Walk to School and active club grants.
"It's great to be back in Ballarat this week, meeting some incredible organisations and individuals working to improve the health of their communities," Mr Demaio said.
"Through our funding, Sports Central and its partners have introduced new social versions of netball, lawn bowls and cricket for people who just want to have a go, as well as programs for women and girls, with activities like rowing, roller derby, ultimate Frisbee, golf and Bollywood dancing."
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