The finals for Australia’s biggest national handball competition for primary school aged children took place this weekend across seven states. It was attended by over 400 children aged 6-12 years and formed part of Camp Australia’s post-COVID-19 campaign to get children active again following a year of lockdowns and increased screen time.
Participants were winners of Camp Australia’s in-service championships, held throughout Term 1 and during the Autumn school holidays. Over 13,600 total children participated in the championships. The regional finals, hosted by Camp Australia at 12 partner schools, was held in collaboration with Handball Australia and received support from Ash Barty, Kara Antonio, Mitch McGovern, Ed Ware and the St Kilda Football Club.
Research from Camp Australia released in February revealed three-quarters of parents (69%) and almost all principals (90%) reported a decrease in physical well-being, paired with feelings of being disconnected that accompanied the transition to remote learning and restrictions from the onset of the pandemic. Camp Australia Chief Operating Officer, Brett Comer said the National Handball Championship was designed to support the physical and mental well-being of children throughout 2021.
“Our research highlighted that following 2020, parents and principals observed a significant decrease in children’s physical and mental well-being because of the loss of participation in sports. Part of our response to COVID-19 continues in activities that guide children’s growth, such as the National Handball Championships to reconnect friendships whilst making physical activity accessible and fun to any child,” said Mr Comer.
Sporting stars from across the country including Freemantle AFLW star Kara Antonio, top AFL team St Kilda Football Club came together to show their support for the competition with important messages for children. World No. 1 tennis player Ash Barty donated a signed top for the event, which became a good sportsmanship award and won by Lakeside College student Tahira. Veteran sprinter Ed Ware, recent winner of the Stawell Gift, also attended Hughesdale Primary School to support the children taking part in the championship.
Kara Antonio said: “Bringing fun, physical activity to kids is always crucial to their health and wellbeing. It was exciting to be part of this unique collaboration to bring the National Handball Championships to kids around the country. It is an awesome initiative to get kids moving and socialising again in a positive, healthy environment.”
Chris Larkins, Executive General Manager of Community at St Kilda Football Club states that “Handball is a childhood favourite for so many of us – and we love the fact that anyone can play to reignite their love of sport and get moving. We really hope this event continues to inspire children everywhere to pick up their favourite sport, no matter what it is, to stay active.”
The National Handball Championships have been helpful in prioritising the physical wellbeing of students following a year of COVID lockdowns. Learning from home, increased screen time and other challenges throughout 2020 have impacted children’s resilience, so events like these that bring students together socially and commit to sport allow children to navigate the new ‘COVID-normal’.
Find out more about the National Handball Championships here.
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