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Ah, sport. When you live in a rural, regional or remote area, you can’t help but notice that sport can be a pretty huge deal for many people – from watching footy at the local oval or pub, to playing all of the different sports balls on a Saturday morning. But what happens when sport really doesn’t kick any goals for you? We chatted to a bunch of young people and found out how being non-sporty affects them in their local communities.

Sport can be amazing…

For heaps of people who live in rural, regional or remote towns, sport is a way to connect with their community. It’s how you make friends and how you keep busy on the weekends; sport can even give you a sense of who you are and become a big part of your identity.

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Each little suburb/town has large sporting fields and clubs for multiple sports, and most kids stay with these clubs for many years. - Christina, Queensland

…but if you’re not into it, it can really suck

What if the idea of watching sport sends you to snooze-town and you happily identify as athletically challenged? While that’s a totally valid lifestyle choice, when you live in an area where sport is a big deal, it can make you feel like a bit of an outsider.

Robots playing soccer

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I feel less involved with the community because I don't play sport. People who participate in sport are seen as really significant people in the community. - Emily, New South Wales

And you may feel like you’re missing out

If you’re not into playing or watching sport, it doesn’t only cut you off from all things related to sport; it can also limit your access to other local facilities and your opportunities to establish an identity within your community.

‘In the area I live in, there is a big love for soccer and football, especially for guys. You'll often see Facebook or Instagram posts from the players,’ says Sarah. ‘There are a lot of local clubs that give people easy access to sporting and other facilities.’

Christina says that other facilities and options tend to be limited. ‘Aside from occasional yoga, there isn't much available for people to do, unfortunately.’

Here's what you can do

So, what can you do if you’re not feeling the sport love? We asked the most non-sporty people we knew in rural, regional and remote areas of Australia, and this is what they recommended:

  • Check out the Meetup site. There are actually more events happening around Australia (and even in smaller centres) than you might think! And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, it’s seriously simple to start your own group.
  • Volunteering is a great way to get involved and to become known within your local community, plus you’ll be getting all the good karma feels. Schools, neighbourhood centres, your local rural fire service, and aged care facilities are a good place to start, but you can also check out Go Volunteer to see what opportunities there are in your local area.
  • Check out your local library. Libraries often hold their own regular events, plus they’re generally a spot where people signpost stuff that’s happening around the local community.
  • While it can be tough to land a casual or part-time job, it’s a good way to get out of the house and get to know new people.

It's easy to feel out-of-the-loop if you’re not the sporty type. So much of life in a country town can seem to be about sport. But there are ways to connect with people in your community that don’t require you to mess around with some kind of ball. You might have to try a little harder, but hopefully you’ll find your kind of people in no time. 

What can I do now?

  • Think about what you like to do and start your own Meetup group in your local area.
  • Read more about how to deal with isolation when you live in a rural or remote area.
  • Hop onto the ReachOut Forums to connect with other young people.