Work­ers be­hind the play­ers –

The Advertiser - Careers - - FRONT PAGE - AARON MACDONALD

NEXT time you’re cheer­ing on a goal, cheer for the dozens of peo­ple who made it pos­si­ble. It’s of­ten easy to for­get there are more peo­ple work­ing to­wards a vic­tory ev­ery week than just those who pull on boots or don whites.

Play­ers make up a rel­a­tively small pro­por­tion of a sports or­gan­i­sa­tion. Stand­ing be­hind them in sup­port is an army of staff, from man­agers and ad­min­is­tra­tors to coaches and medi­cos to bar and wait­ing staff.

Re­cent cen­sus data shows 22,800 peo­ple are work­ing in the sports in­dus­try in South Aus­tralia in a non-player role.

That is more than the num­ber of paid play­ers, which at the last count was 20,400. Of­fice for Recre­ation and Sport ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paul An­der­son says the scope for ca­reer paths in sport is al­most lim­it­less.

‘‘Sport is a sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic con­trib­u­tor in ad­di­tion to the im­por­tant role it plays in cre­at­ing a healthy, ac­tive, more so­cially in­te­grated so­ci­ety,’’ he says.

‘‘Be­cause of this, it gives rise to ex­cit­ing and broad ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties that com­bine an un­der­stand­ing and pas­sion for sport with com­mer­cial or man­age­ment path­ways, so­cial pro­gram path­ways or tech­ni­cal path­ways.’’

Roles may range from turf or as­set man­age­ment to ac­count­ing, cater­ing, mar­ket­ing, right through to chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer po­si­tions.

‘‘Sport is a dy­namic in­dus­try, a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try and a re­ward­ing in­dus­try. It’s def­i­nitely never a dull in­dus­try,’’ Mr An­der­son says.

SquashSA gen­eral man­ager Phil Sin­nott, who worked for tra­di­tional cor­po­ra­tions and lo­cal coun­cils be­fore be­com­ing the state’s peak squash or­gan­i­sa­tion boss, says the dif­fer­ences be­tween sports or­gan­i­sa­tions and tra­di­tional busi­nesses are rapidly dis­ap­pear­ing.

‘‘Sport is in­creas­ingly be­com­ing a busi­ness,’’ he says.

‘‘We’re see­ing a grow­ing trend of sports clubs un­der­pinned by the op­er­a­tions of a com­mer­cial en­tity – many foot­ball teams work this way, for ex­am­ple.

‘‘SquashSA is an in­ter­est­ing case. We’ve got the sport it­self and our mem­ber­ship and our play­ers. We have the ath­letes who make their way on to the pro­fes­sional cir­cuit.

‘‘Plus we have Rac­quets SA, which is a bar, bistro and din­ing ser­vice. That’s three dif­fer­ent wings of our busi­ness. So there’s a lot of scope for ca­reers within our or­gan­i­sa­tion be­yond just play­ing the sport.’’

Mr Sin­nott says the sports in­dus­try is con­stantly evolv­ing to re­act to and take ad­van­tage of new tech­nolo­gies and cul­tures. At the end of the day, he says it is a good thing for the fans.

‘‘Sport will al­ways play a very im­por­tant role in the com­mu­nity,’’ Mr Sin­nott says. ‘‘But it’s be­com­ing more and more pro­fes­sional, even the am­a­teur leagues.

‘‘Per­haps be­cause of the in­creased me­dia cov­er­age it gets, the ser­vice lev­els the play­ers and sup- porters ex­pect – be it at a lo­cal club or a state as­so­ci­a­tion level – have in­creased.’’ While sport is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly cor­po­rate, Mr Sin­nott says there are el­e­ments that set it apart from a typ­i­cal nine-tofive en­tity – many in­her­ited di­rect from the play­ing field.

‘‘It’s a re­ally en­joy­able and di­verse in­dus­try to work in,’’ he says.

‘‘There’s an in­cred­i­ble amount of ca­ma­raderie in the sports in­dus­try.

‘‘On the field we might clash fiercely (with other teams), but off the field we don’t see our­selves as com­peti­tors but as col­leagues.

‘‘We work to­gether to meet the chal­lenges and make it a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for the fans.’’

Pic­ture: Camp­bell Brodie

SquashSA ad­min­is­tra­tion staff Phil Sin­nott, Tanya Vir­gens, Jane Intini and Patti Wil­son.

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