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Sport at any level; builds community. Sport at any level; builds community. Featured
14 June 2021 Posted by 

BUILDING SPORT = BUILDING COMMUNITY

We want a sporting identity we can call our own
BOB TURNER
SOME years ago, I was approached by a major NSW Council to see if I would assist in securing an NBL team for their city.
When I inquired why, the response was that their city did not have a sporting identity and a property they could call their own to generate support from their community.  The fact they did not have a venue to meet NBL standards was not a deterrent as they felt get the team and we will build it.
 
Last month I wrote about how sport can build and unite, especially in the corporate sense.  This month the focus is on the community and what it means to have a sporting team to generate pride, affiliation and a community spirit. 
 
Whether you are a rugby league supporter or not when you think of Penrith, the Panthers come to mind.  Mention Manly and the Sea Eagles pop into the conversation.  Similarly, the Eels are synonymous with Parramatta.  
 
It does not matter if you even follow sport, any sport, but these teams create a sense of community spirit and association.  They build an affinity that tends to be as prominent as any other feature of a city.
 
In 2006, I had the idea to internationalise the NBL by placing a team in Singapore.  When I met with senior members of the Singapore Sports Council with the concept to establish a pro team for the country their interest was sparked. 
 
 In the words of one of the officials it was mentioned that if you go to London – you will go to Wembley, or the MSG if visiting Melbourne.  Go to New York – Yankee Stadium or Madison Square Garden. Visit Singapore, the comment was made you go to Orchard Road for shopping as Singapore did not have a major sporting presence.  
 
Government backed my initiative
 
The government backed my initiative to establish the first professional sporting team for the country – a win for both the NBL and Singapore.  The first two years were challenging, especially as the travel was expensive and we were paving new ground.  
 
On top of that we were playing in the Australian NBL and the playing roster rules were two imports and eight Australians/New Zealanders on the team.  
 
Despite making the NBL playoffs in our first year, with Singapore on our uniform chest, the Singapore National was confused and wondering where their players were. Teams are supposed to represent a city, Country in this case, with a sense of pride and purpose.
 
The solution was to establish an ASEAN based League and thanks to the Slingers Chairman, Tony Fernandes from Air Asia, within a year the Slingers had pulled out of the NBL and were playing in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).  
 
The ABL had the rules of a minimum seven Nationals on each team and playing similar countries like Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and even Brunei, the local spirit started to take hold.  I went to the ABL finals two years ago to see the Slingers play in the Grand Final at their home ground.  
 
When I walked into the Stadium a sense of pride came over me as the sell-out crowd, mainly of Singapore nationals, were there to wildly support their team.  
 
Singapore had now identified with the Slingers and the now full-time players were becoming household names. The Spirit of sport had infiltrated the Singapore psyche and proved once again community spirit can be generated by a sporting team. 
 
Sport excels through its tribal base and nature.  For National teams like the Wallabies, Matildas, Opals or Boomers the support comes from the country.  
 
When it comes to locally based teams like Collingwood, the Bulldogs, Eels or the Sharks the passionate fan base can run through generations.  When I first came to Australia the tribalism of Rugby League in Sydney was legendary.  
 
 
This passion and building community spirit is the goal of Blacktown City FC.  We have the vital ingredients of a beautiful home stadium, history, culture and long-standing credibility of producing talent. Playing in the NSW Premier League we have the potential to become a sporting catalyst to assist in igniting pride in Blacktown. 
 
Our slogan for the year is ‘Your Town, Your Team’ and as you can see by the print ad in this publication we are “Always Blacktown, Never Backdown”! 
 
Our focus is on the 400,000 residents who live in this great city, and as we say: “Show your Support and Show Up”!  See you at the game!!
 
Bob Turner is Chairman of Blacktown FC and one of Australia’s most successful sports executives.


editor

Publisher
Michael Walls
michael@accessnews.com.au
0407 783 413

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