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Matilda Mary Fowler Launches 50k Community Sport Grant with Uber

March 13, 2024 4:31 pm in by
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Soccer star Mary Fowler is backing community sport underdogs, in a new partnership with Uber to sponsor Australia’s most deserving reserve grade team. The move comes as new research reveals 1 in 4 regional and remote Australian sporting clubs are experiencing declining participant registrations, threatening the future of Australian sport.

Australia Women’s National Soccer forward Mary Fowler, is leveraging her experience in community sport, and namely on the reserve bench, to inspire the next generation of grassroots players and call on Australia to recognise the importance of their local team.

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In partnership with the Australian Sports Foundation, Uber is today kicking off the pursuit for the most worthy reserve team to be awarded $50,000 for their relentless work to keep their sporting team alive. Community sporting teams across Australia are invited to enter into the running and demonstrate why their team is deserving of the grant in a video submission. Entries are open today and close at midnight on 31 March 2024 when the winner will be selected by a panel including Mary Fowler, the hosts of the Hello Sports podcast, and Uber.

“This initiative aims to recognise the underdogs and the underfunded on the reserve bench, in their consistent pursuit to keep their club, and community spirit alive,” said Fowler. “I resonate with their fighting community spirit, as it spurred my love for soccer 14 years ago in my hometown in Cairns. Without it, I simply wouldn’t be where I am today, playing professionally and for my national team,”

The life changing sponsorship will be provided to one reserve team to support club needs, whether that’s buying new equipment, covering staff or volunteer resources, or just the ability to keep the lights on as the cost of living pressures bite.

“It’s a pleasure to be part of Uber’s Reserve Grade Heroes campaign, shedding light on the importance of supporting community sport. Together, we can empower local communities and nurture the next generation of athletes.” continued Fowler. 

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Regional sporting clubs under threat from lack of participation

The initiative comes as new research from the Australian Sports Foundation reveals that 1 in 4 regional and remote Australian sporting clubs are experiencing declining participant registrations, due to cost of living impacts (23%), and a lack of resources (19%) and the costs of registrations and fees (16%).

While there’s no doubt community sport brings people together in regional communities, according to one participant, funding is the main barrier to participation: “The main reason that our registrations are down is because our facilities are run down and unsafe to use, with limited funding, we are unable to improve these facilities” — said David Flynn, a soccer coach based in Ballarat. 

Australian Sports Foundation spokesperson, Ryan Holloway, said “As our research has shown, now is a more important time than ever to get behind Aussie grassroots sport. Sports clubs and athletes are under significant financial pressure and clubs are struggling with less volunteers and more administration. Participation and running costs are increasing – while traditional sources of revenue are decreasing. 

We want to be part of the solution and we’re delighted to support Uber in its pursuit of the most deserving reserve team to receive the $50,000 sponsorship. We want to bring education and support to reserve grade sporting teams that help them continue to allow Aussies to play the sports they love – and who knows, we could even find the next Mary Fowler!”

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Teams who aren’t granted the Uber sponsorship will go on to receive support from the Australian Sports Foundation, which exists to support a thriving Australian sporting sector, where everyone has access to the health and social benefits of sport, regardless of their gender, background, location, ability or culture.

“We’re proud to launch the Reserve Grade Heroes grant to support local sporting communities, and allow one deserving team the chance to win $50,000 to put towards important costs like uniforms, equipment and volunteers,” commented Dom Taylor, Managing Director of Uber ANZ. “Just as reserve teams have their communities’ backs, Uber Reserve has theirs, providing convenient transportation solutions for players and supporters alike.”

Entries are open to reserve grade teams across the country from 13 March 2024, and close at midnight on 31 March 2024. It’s time for Aussies to grab a camera, grab their teammates, and in a 60-second video show why their reserve team deserves $50,000.

Looking for a great sports podcast? Check out Two Good Sports

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