Data from the Australian Sports Foundation showing that up to a quarter of Australian sporting clubs were at risk of closure reminds us of the importance of these clubs to our social and community fabric.
The loss of membership and affiliation fees, as well as gate and canteen takings and sponsorships exposed the fragility of many of the clubs and associations we take for granted across Tasmania.
With grassroots winter sports now returning, we can all take comfort with some return to normality now that this uncertain and frustrating wait is over.
I will always be proud of the Tasmanian Government's rapid response as the national first-mover to support grassroots sporting associations.
Tranche One of our COVID-19 Sport and Recreation Grants program provided peak sporting organisations with up to $150,000 each to maintain employment during a period in which they faced catastrophic declines in revenues.
In Tranche One, 187 Tasmanians were kept in work across the sporting sector, enabling associations to plan for the bounce-back to competitions, which we have now seen across many of our biggest participation sports such as football, soccer, netball, basketball and hockey.
Tranche Two of this nation-leading initiative will see a further $900,000 distributed to individual clubs for the safe return to play with sanitisation stations, signage and spare sporting equipment provided to ensure all players, officials and spectators can be confident to get back on the field.
In addition to this support, our Government recently announced a $10 million Improving the Playing Field Fund, which will provide grants to local councils, sporting clubs and associations to improve playing facilities across Tasmania to maintain and build participation across sporting codes following the COVID-19 pandemic.
This grant program will also provide a major stimulus to the construction industry across urban and regional Tasmania.
Grants of between $25,000 and $250,000 will be made available for capital works such as; change rooms, toilets, shower facilities, accessibility, lighting, security, fencing, scoreboards, drainage and other civil construction works.
Lastly, our Ticket to Play program has been a great success, allowing thousands of eligible young Tasmanians the opportunity to play a sport that they otherwise may not have the financial means to participate in.
I recently announced that we will double the support available under the program from $100 to $200 for eligible applicants, aged from 5 to 17, to access the Ticket to Play voucher and engage in sport for potentially the very first time.
Under this initiative, successful applicants will receive the voucher in the 2020-21 financial year, and will be able to choose to redeem the $200 against one sport, or split $100 between a winter and summer sport.
As Minister for Sport and Recreation, I am very proud of this important initiative which gives young Tasmanians the opportunity to feel part of a team, to learn new physical skills, to gain leadership experience and to have some fun along the way.
With so much support at the grassroots sports level, we are also giving talented young Tasmanians the opportunity to graduate to the elite level sporting competitions, such as the National Basketball League, which Tasmania will re-join in 2021-22 for the first time in 25 years.
I sincerely thank all Tasmanian sporting organisations, including players, coaches, officials, supporters and volunteers for their understanding and resilience during this difficult period.
For further information on funding opportunities for participation in sport and active recreation in Tasmania, and to assist the ongoing development of Tasmania's sport and recreation sector, you can visit: https://www.communities.tas.gov.au/csr/sportrec/fu...