Workers behind the players –
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.’’
SquashSA administration staff Phil Sinnott, Tanya Virgens, Jane Intini and Patti Wilson.