Rain, hail or shine, sport brings us together

The valuable role sport plays in regional and rural communities has been an often told story.

Over time many words, both formal and informal, have attempted to capture the meaning of sport for the nation.

It not only brings people together as a team, committee and club. It unites us as one to cheer and support the sporting endeavours of others.

The region should embrace the sporting achievement of Wodonga’s Jodi Elkington-Jones.

Elkington-Jones on Friday won her second Paralympic bronze medal with the Australian women’s 4x100m T35-38 relay.

Just a day earlier Elkington-Jones won bronze in the T37 long jump competition.

While sport has taken her to the city, Elkington-Jones is a success story of regional sport, excelling in the pool and on the track, coming through the ranks of the Wodonga Athletics Club

Wodonga-born swimmer Lakeisha Patterson, of Caboolture, Queensland, continued her successful Games with another gold medal as part of the the 4x100m freestyle relay.

Sport truly is a tool to bring us together.

A decade ago Perth-based human geographer Matthew Tonts, who has a particular interest in regional development, researched the topic of competitive sport in rural Australia.

He says one of the most distinctive characteristics of many Australian country towns and regions is the role that competitive sport plays in local social, cultural, political and economic relations.

It contributes to community identity, sense of place, social interaction and good health.  

Today thousands of people will converge on the small southern Riverina town of Walbundrie for the Hume football and netball league grand final day.

From 8.45am the under-14 boys run onto the field to start eight hours of football action while the 12 and under girls begins seven grades of netball from 11am. 

At Walbundrie 11 of the 12 clubs will field a team today.

Many of the clubs in the league have been around for more than 100 years while for others such as Rand-Walbundrie-Walla, 2016 marks their debut year and it will be special moment when the club’s 12 and under netballers take on Henty.

It is a celebration of community as much as it a competition to find the best.

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