Returning to sport after a COVID-19 shutdown: understanding the challenges facing community sport clubs

Kiera Staley, Erica Randle, Alex Donaldson, Emma Seal, Donna Burnett, Lauren Thorn, Kirsty Forsdike, Matthew Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale/Purpose: This study investigates the challenges of returning to sport after a COVID-19 shutdown of sport from the perspective of community sport clubs (CSCs). We explore the relationship between the challenges CSCs identified and the challenges the nation’s lead sport agency identified; and similarities or differences in the challenges faced by different types of CSCs. Design/methodology/approach: Concept Mapping (online) with 57 CSCs in Victoria, Australia. Findings: CSCs identified eight clusters of challenges related to returning to sport after the COVID-19 shutdown (in highest to lowest mean impact rating order): volunteers; club culture; health protocols; membership; finances; facilities; competition; and governance and division of responsibility. Cluster impact ratings differed by club location, competitive season, venue type, club size, and type of sport offered. Practical implications: The challenges CSCs face returning to sport are more complex and broader than current national guidelines suggest, with previously existing challenges exacerbated and new challenges emerging. Listening to CSCs is essential to understanding the nuances of, and support needed to address the complex context-specific challenges to returning to operations after a COVID-19 shutdown. Research contribution: Understanding the challenges and how they differ for CSCs as they return to sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • challenges
  • Community sport
  • concept mapping
  • COVID-19
  • guidelines

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