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Small business is the backbone of community sport – here’s the proof

COSBOA has long said that small business is an important part of our communities, particularly in regional Australia. They support local charities, are on the boards of local community groups and sponsor school events as well as kids’ sport teams.

This is something that most of us know from experience. But we at COSBOA still decided that it wasn’t good enough to just claim this as true without any evidence or examples. So, using Google, we did an informal survey of community soccer clubs around Australia to see just how many of them were sponsored by local small businesses.

The result? 94% (61/65) were sponsored by local small businesses, and 100% were sponsored by either local small businesses or local medium businesses (e.g RSL clubs and hotels). Let’s repeat that: one hundred per cent. And this isn’t only regional Australia – we wanted to paint an accurate picture of Australia as a whole, so most of our samples came from the suburbs of capital cities, as that’s where most of us live.

Here is what we did:

We considered the population sizes of each state and territory and decided we would look at 20 soccer clubs in NSW, 17 in Victoria, 13 in QLD, 7 in WA, 5 in SA, and 1 each in Tasmania, the ACT and the NT. We did the same thing to work out how many we would select from the state’s capital city and how many from its the regional towns. Then we simply typed “community soccer club” into Google Maps and went to the clubs’ websites to see their sponsors. If they didn’t have a website we went back to the map and chose a different club. If Google gave us a professional or semi-professional club (as happened a few times) we discarded it and chose a different one.

Here are some examples:

The Narooma Football Club on the NSW South Coast is sponsored by a local IGA, a pharmacy and a butcher, among many others.

The Eaglehawk Football Club in Bendigo is sponsored by a bookkeeping business, a barbershop, a butcher, and many more local businesses.

New Farm United Soccer Club in the centre of Brisbane has a local pharmacy and a local deli/ café among its sponsors.

Georges River Soccer Club in Sydney has a lot of local businesses too.

It became obvious after reviewing about 10 clubs that they were all going to be sponsored by local businesses, but we kept going anyway. This Soccer Association in Kalgoorlie was one of the only examples we found of big businesses sponsoring community sport. And even then, they have small business sponsors as well.

You can see a table with all of the soccer clubs we looked at here.

When we advocate for small business, this is what we’re defending: community. If individual small businesses collapse because of COVID-19, it’s not just a tragedy for the business owners and their staff; whole communities are affected. Of course, it’s not only community sport that small business supports – this was just an easy one to research. We’ve heard about small businesses donating to charities, and even to the town band. It would be great to see some in depth research on small businesses’ contributions to their local communities. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to send us your stories (we have a contact form here).

Small business isn’t just the “engine room of the economy”. It’s also the backbone of community and we should document it.



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