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Another blow for sporting exchange

Thursday, 12th June, 2014

Only junior cricketers and netballers will go to Bankstown in September after the BH Soccer Association pulled out. Only junior cricketers and netballers will go to Bankstown in September after the BH Soccer Association pulled out.

By Andrew Robertson

Plans to take a third sport to Bankstown for this year’s Sporting Exchange have been dashed after the BH Soccer Association pulled out.

The inclusion of soccer had been seen as a positive development for the annual exchange which has experienced a steady decline in participation.   

BH Sister City Committee chairman Christine Adams said yesterday the decision meant that only cricket and netball teams would go to Bankstown in September.

“It’s a damn shame,” Ms Adams said. 

“We were notified by the Soccer Association last week that they were unable to participate.”

She was unsure of the reason behind the decision but said the week-long exchange may have clashed with the local soccer finals.

BH Soccer Association president Tom Kennedy later confirmed that the exchange and the junior finals were on the same week.

“We wanted to send a couple of teams over but it clashed with the junior finals,” Mr Kennedy said.

Thousands of children have taken part in the exchange which exposes city kids to life in the outback and country kids to the city.

But its popularity has waned in the last decade or so, with only cricket and netball now the mainstays. 

After some 40 children travelled to Broken Hill from Bankstown last year, organisers even flagged the possibility of introducing non-sporting activities such as computer games to entice children. 

“It’s very difficult to get our groups involved for various reasons,” Cr Adams said yesterday.

“All we can do is encourage the sporting bodies to get involved.”

She said part of the problem might be a misconception among clubs and associations that they have to field their best teams.

“This is what we call the friendly games ... the friendships that are made are long-standing in many cases.”

Cr Adams said attempts would be made to include soccer next year when Broken Hill hosts the 29th exchange.

“Hopefully we can work around this next year when Bankstown comes to Broken Hill.”

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