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Numbers game

Tuesday, 1st October, 2013

Organisers are thinking outside the square in an effort to help boost numbers in the sporting exchange pro- gram. Organisers are thinking outside the square in an effort to help boost numbers in the sporting exchange pro- gram.

By Kurtis J Eichler

Video games could be used to entice children into the Sister City Bankstown Sporting Exchange as it battles against declining participation.

Forty children from Bankstown travelled to Broken Hill for the annual exchange last week for a week full of friendly cricket and netball competition and a few cultural experiences.

It’s Bankstown’s turn to host the 28th exchange next year but many fear it’s not viable given the falling participation rate.

The 40 who participated this year in cricket and netball from Bankstown was half the number who came to the city in 2011.

About 95 competed from Broken Hill, relatively the same as last time it was held here.

Organisers however are vowing it will survive despite a significant drop in children signing up.

Bankstown City Council and sister city co-ordinator Matt Jessop painted a rosy picture of the exchange, saying it “absolutely” would survive.

Mr Jessop said they hoped to introduce soccer next year which in turn would get more volunteers involved. There could even be a video games section.

“I think both councils are supportive of it evolving and I think it needs to evolve,” Mr Jessop said. “That’s why we have these debriefings.”

“We’re hoping numbers are up next year but it really depends on the number of people able to come.”

Broken Hill councillor Christine Adams said nearly every child played sport in 1986 but the emergence of iPads and new technology meant entertainment could be found elsewhere.

But she did admit it needed some tweaking and more of “personal” push to get local sporting clubs on board.

“You have to have your co-ordinators to run these events and I think there has to be a really concerted push to get the message out there,” she said.

“It will survive, there’s no doubt about that but we have to keep up with the times.

“It’s a wonderful initiative between two councils we just need to sharpen it up a little.”

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