Unlike many large international sporting events, when HRH The Duke of Sussex closes Invictus Games Sydney 2018, it will not only signal an end but it will be a new beginning for the Australian veterans.
The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 has celebrated the announcement of Veteran Sport Australia to encourage Invictus Games competitors and other veterans to to make sport a part of the rest of their lives.
The RSL, with the support of Clubs NSW, the Australian Defence Force, Department of Veterans Affairs and various ex-service organisations, has combined the two values of playing sport and belonging to a community to create Veteran Sport Australia. The new program responds to the needs of veterans and their families with the goal of providing a fully integrated sports program across the country.
“The RSL has always had a fine tradition of looking after Australia’s returned servicemen and women since it was established in 1916 and through Veteran Sport Australia we will continue to do so,” says RSL NSW President James Brown.
“In many ways it is back to the future for the RSL. After the second world war the RSL was very active in organising sporting activities for returned service men and women and their families. That gradually dropped away although there are still clubs that are involved with bowls, football in different codes or netball – but certainly not to the former extent.
“We all know the curative healing power of exercise and sport and this has been already demonstrated on the sporting arenas around Sydney during the Invictus Games.
“Although our focus here at the Invictus Games is supporting and encouraging our wounded, injured and ill serving members and veterans, the program ensures the provision of sporting and activities programs will be available for all veteran members and their families. This will also enable them to connect with the wider sporting fraternity both nationally and in their local areas.”
“The rest of the world needs to support the practical things that elevate a veteran’s quality of life,” said the Governor General, Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd),
“Veteran Sport Australia is a fantastic thing, it’s all building blocks stuff.”
Veteran Sport Australia is a national project engaging with veterans and their families who want to play sports and enjoy the camaraderie of being involved in a team environment. It is a collaborative effort of several veterans groups, facilitated by the RSL.
“The legacy of the Invictus Games is so important. There is now a window of opportunity when the general population is interested in veterans and so we need to use this opportunity to get the public to understand how they can help,” said Darren Chester, Federal Minister for Veterans Affairs.
“This program is about reaching out and embracing veterans to join in grassroots sporting activities, he said. “Whilst the public have embraced the spirit of the Invictus Games seeing sport as an important vehicle for recovery, we need to make sure this program gets into our communities now.”
Ensuring inclusivity, VSA will run an adaptive sports program which in the coming years hopes to offer local competition in several sports. Subsidising adaptive sport coaching education is another VSA goal. The RSL through Veteran Sport Australia will also continue to be involved in providing pathways for participation in the Warrior, Invictus Games and Paralympic Games through running selection and training camps.
“We also realise that connection to the wider veteran community is important so we will be establishing a digital hub for veterans and their families looking for sporting opportunities across a range of ex-service organisations,” said Brown.
“After the cheering ends and the excitement of the Invictus Games fades, it is the feeling of belonging to an organisation where they are recognised for their service contribution and can enjoy sports that will be for our veterans an ongoing positive legacy of these Games,” said Brown.
A free National Career Expo was also held at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park, hosted by With You With Me. There were numerous organisations in attendance, including Invictus Games 2018 sponsor Amazon, to talk with veterans and their families about job opportunties. This is a fine example of the legacy of the Invictus Games inspiring people coming together, helping veterans in a constructive way.
Invictus Games Sydney 2018