IF THERE were ever a time to dig into your motivational sports movies, now is it.
Not so much for the underdog triumph tales (although these are worth the confidence boost).
Not so much for the awe-inspiring Rocky or Creed-style workout sequences (especially as we need to be careful about iso-loading injuries).
This is when we need a Coach Bombay "ducks fly together" reminder.
Right now we have our backs against the wall when it comes to community sport.
We know community clubs and leagues are going to have to work hard on engagement and retention, particularly for winter competitions.
So deprived of usual sporting avenues for so long, those that find ways to re-start play can expect an influx of new players and members - this is starting to unfold in Central Highlands Football League junior competition and will will unfold across other codes, like basketball, let alone the potentially unprecedented build-up to summer sports, like cricket.
This is a great in juniors and adults just wanting to find a way to get moving more and be part of a team environment, with all the benefits this can bring.
We know community clubs and leagues are facing incredible financial and volunteer strains to stay alive, particularly in retaining sponsors and volunteers who might too, find other avenues to channel money and energy.
This columnist, in no way, makes light of this.
Federation University sports researcher Rochelle Eime is part of a team actually mapping all these complex factors on the state of play for well-being in sport. Professor Eime said never before has sport completely stopped like this to allow researchers a chance to measure social and emotional values in sport, comparing when there is no play to an action resumption.
Consistently through Professor Eime's initial findings, sport-playing Australians missed the social side of grassroots sport. Even just a kick of the footy with mates.
Nothing will ever be the same once this pandemic has passed. That does not necessarily mean all bad things for community sport, just look to the innovative ways clubs and teammates have worked to motivate and support each other.
But, "ducks fly together" - or, if you borrow the basketball game day scene from High School Musical, "we're all in this together" - is not just about one club or team.
Ballarat has done so well in the pandemic as a whole community. This element of teamwork rather than an I, Tonya kinda rivalry will be imperative to the health of our sporting scene in players, coaches and volunteers.
This time apart or playing in an ordinarily rival club or code could offer greater appreciation for what essentially we are all trying to do out there: have fun and be active.
There is undoubtedly still a long road ahead. Ballarat's sporting community as a whole, as a team, is a strength this city can be proud about.
So, think like a Duck with the words of Coach Bombay: "A team isn't a bunch of kids out to win. A team is something you belong to, something you feel, something you have to earn".
No soppy ending needed, just a mindset worth considering.
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