A charity football event pitting media personalities against local musicians is playing for higher stakes this year, its manager says, with funding rejected then salvaged at “the last stroke of midnight”.
- Reclink funding application denied, but a one-off $50,000 granted anyway
- State manager worried about future revenue for charity organisation
- Community Cup between the Anchors and the Rockatoos to be played on Sunday
The Reclink Community Cup, which helps fund sport and art programs for disadvantaged people, is in its fifth year and is run by volunteers through an organisation that has been granted $50,000 annually from the South Australian Government for some time.
The Reclink Australia state manager, Andy Asser, said this year they applied for additional criteria because “our programs had grown exponentially in the past two or three years”.
“That was one of the criteria they used to knock us back, because we actually asked for more,” he said.
“Some of our supporters mounted a bit of a campaign to besiege [Sports Minister Corey Wingard].”
With the help of local MPs, Mr Asser said they managed to “squeeze Corey Wingard”.
“And he went and squeezed [Premier] Steven Marshall, and we got a one-off donation to cover that $50,000 for just this year,” he said.
Program ‘devolution’ considered
Up until that moment, Mr Asser said the SA branch was looking at a “major devolution of its program” by reducing staff — which included himself and two part-time workers — and the programs they offer to disadvantaged people.
This included everything from football to swimming and basketball, to volleyball, dancing, kayaking, golf, and lawn bowls.
“Basically, 90 per cent of the people who come to us are going around bending street signs, or they’re sitting at home watching TV, or they’ve been in the can, or they’re on a low income and can’t afford to do stuff that gets them motivated to get back into the mainstream,” he said.
“We’re working with disadvantaged schools and homeless agencies, who have good support with counselling and health, but there’s nobody much providing the healthy stuff, the fun stuff, the things people need when they’re trying to get back on their feet.
“For 90 per cent of the program we run, there’s nobody else in that space.”
Reclink advised to tweak application
But Mr Wingard told the ABC there had been no decrease in State Government funding to Reclink and to suggest otherwise was “misleading”.
He said it had been provided with $50,000, the same amount it had received from the Office of Recreation, Sport and Racing, over the “previous three years”.
“The organisation had applied through a specific sports grants program for a large increase on previous levels of funding, which would have accounted for about a fifth of the total funding available to be distributed for one year,” Mr Wingard said.
He acknowledged that Reclink provided services to “many disadvantaged people” but it had “many outcomes that would fit better under grant programs through the Department of Human Services”.
“The State Government is happy to assist with applications going forward,” he said.
More than $20,000 raised in 2018
This year’s Reclink will be played at Norwood Oval on Sunday and features live music and entertainment.
Last year it pulled more than 2,000 spectators and raised more than $20,000.
Mr Marshall himself has been involved in the charity match regularly as the local MP for Dunstan.
“Mr Marshall, at the last stroke of midnight, gave us a one-off donation, which is great, and that’s partly because he comes to the cup, he tosses the coin every year, and knows who we are and what we do,” Mr Asser said.
“I think that’s the reason we got across the line, but the next financial year is going to be the crunch point because we’ve got to find an alternative source of money.
“We’re growing all the time but there’s only a certain amount of hours I can work and my two part-time staff are on annual contracts like me.
“They’re working their butts off, but I’ve got to try and keep them employed as well.”