The onfield exploits of the GWS GIANTS during the clubs 2019 campaign has provided a boost in key areas for the AFL, whilst also attracting a renewed interest from St.George Bank for a further two years.
Western Sydney’s surge in AFL has seen significant growth in the code, both in membership by 16 per cent to 30,000 over the past 12 months as well an increase in participation year on year.
Junior teams, in particular, have nearly doubled in the past five years and General Manager for St.George Bank, Ross Miller, said it is a really exciting time to partner with the GIANTS and extend their support for the AFL community.
“Supporting communities and growing grassroots participation in sport are two things that are incredibly important to us as a family bank as we focus on helping families in Western Sydney,” he said.
“Our research shows eight in 10 families in Western Sydney participate in sport, which is an important factor in our extended partnership so that we can support the code with assistance such as affordable family memberships, elite-level support and grassroots participation.”
St.George Bank’s research into family finances and sport revealed three in 10 households across Western Sydney avoid sport due to factors such as travel time and costs, memberships and uniforms.
Throughout 2019 St.George Bank has continued its’ focus on sport, including a further two-year extension as a major partner to the Dragons’ NRL and Women’s Premiership teams, and launching its inaugural St.George Footy Grants Program, awarding $100,000 to help remove barriers to participation and encourage clubs and individuals to kick-start their footy journey across New South Wales, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
“It’s extremely positive to see that despite time, travel and cost families are still prioritising sport because of the health benefits, confidence, social skills and family benefits that membership provides,” Mr Miller said.
“Such research is the pillar behind why St.George supports three codes of sport across Australia and will continue our St.George Footy Grants Program in 2020 to assist more local clubs and families with a love of sport.”
As part of the St.George grassroots program, local AFL club Fairfield Falcons received $9,000 to assist with improved facilities and more equipment to help meet the multi-cultural and young female participation coming from within their community.
“Over the next two years we look forward to continuing this support to more clubs and partnering with GWS to pave the way for growth, break down barriers for participation, develop grassroots footy and help keep the costs of participation much more achievable for families,” Mr Miller said.
GIANTS Chief Executive Officer, David Matthews, said the club has seen junior football expand and improve in a number of ways in the local community.
“We’ve seen strong growth across the board in recent years including a big increase in the number of juniors playing in Western Sydney who come from a multicultural background,” Matthews said.
“Two of our region’s most multicultural junior clubs had outstanding seasons, with the Fairfield Falcons making a maiden grand final appearance after only two full years in the competition and the Bankstown Bullsharks winning their first-ever premiership in the Under-18 Youth Girls.
“As well as these great stories, the introduction of the AFL Women’s competition – where the GIANTS are the only team representing NSW and the ACT – is having a flow-on effect into the junior ranks, with female football participation up by 30% across Western Sydney in the last year.
“The growth in our membership base and the rise in male and female participation numbers clearly demonstrate that more and more families across Western Sydney are connecting with the GIANTS as we continue to grow as a club, and we are extremely excited to see St.George join us on this journey for a further two years.”