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Children 'Play for life' at campaign launches across Australia


The 'Play for life...join a sporting club' campaign has been celebrated around the country at events in each state and territory. Campaign ambassador Johanna Griggs spoke to families at each of the launches about the value of sporting clubs for children. 'Apart from the wonderful skills they learn, they also increase their social networks, learn to interact with their peers on a completely new level, learn how to win and lose gracefully, burn off excess energy and, most importantly, have fun.' The first 'Play for life' launch took place on 21 July in Marysville at the heart of some of the areas worst affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires. Children from Marysville and Buxton Primary Schools had an active morning playing basketball, lawn bowls and cricket, and experienced AFL coaching from Hawthorn Hawks players. Shellharbour played host to the NSW launch on 27 July. The venue - Shellharbour City Stadium - is a leading sporting facility for disability sport in Australia, and is the home court for the Roller Hawks national wheelchair basketball team. The choice of location reinforced the 'Play for life' campaign message: there is a club sport for everyone regardless of age, ability, interest and skill. Children from the Mount Terry Public School participated in a round robin of sports, including AFL, soccer, basketball and Taekidokai martial arts. On 29 July, Evatt Primary School students in Canberra played tennis with international champion and Australian Institute of Sport tennis head coach Todd Larkham, and learnt new skills with much-loved Matilda's football (soccer) star Sally Shipard and a number of Institute athletes. The students also had the opportunity to experience rugby union, handball and Rhee tae kwon do. It was then on to Adelaide on 3 August, where children from Sturt Street Community School participated in a range of sport rotations at the Tennis SA Memorial Drive tennis centre, including cricket, tennis and rugby. The highlight of the Perth launch, on 4 August at the WA Basketball Centre, was the appearance of the Perth Redbacks who ran a range of basketball drills for children from three local schools. A week later in Hobart on 11 August, Hawthorn Hawks AFL team member Grant Birchall showed children from Sacred Heart College his diverse skills in cricket, softball, athletics, futsal, touch football and bowls. The campaign roll-out concluded on 12 August at Coomera Anglican College on the Gold Coast. Olympic baseball silver medallist Phil Stockman spoke to the school children, who had the opportunity to try a range of sports, including baseball, Arakan martial arts, sailing, cricket, rugby union, touch football and table tennis. The event encouraged children to look beyond traditional sports and consider some of the diverse experiences available. A formal launch event was not held in the Northern Territory, but the Australian Sports Commission is currently organising events in Darwin, Alice Springs, Katherine and several other communities. In addition to the seven state and territory launches, around 150 regional events are now being held around the country, allowing children and parents to try a sport and meet with local clubs in their area.
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