OPINION | Fans questions Wests Tigers commitment to Macarthur

There were plenty of empty seats at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium game against the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

There were plenty of empty seats at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium game against the Gold Coast Titans. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

We at Tiger Talk were pretty disappointed with the – let’s be frank here – abysmal crowd numbers at Campbelltown’s last home game two weeks ago.

Sure, the temperature was fit for the set of Titanic and both the Wests Tigers and Gold Coast Titans had a permanent lease in the cellar, but there’s only four games a year at the ground – it should have been at least half full.

So we asked you, our faithful readers, why there were so many empty seats at the ground.

You were more than happy to provide a long list of reasons.

Former Campbelltown councillor Clinton Mead’s comment – suggesting a better experience could be had at the nearby Hooters where the temperature was warm, the screen was close and the beer service wasn’t cut off 20 minutes before the end of the game – was liked by more than 60 of our Facebook readers.

Other readers suggested entry prices were too high for families, there wasn’t enough promotion of the game, the out-of-state opposition was insulting and there was no chance to interact with players before or after games.

Mitch Butler believed the Tigers had “been playing with no passion” while Chris Mechan said “the team is terrible, they don’t represent Campbelltown properly like the Magpies did” and the “players have no loyalty”.

Pete Nichols said it would be “very hard to get the crowds back” without a sense of local loyalty while Steven Cooke said the club “would much rather look after Balmain and forget about Macarthur”.

In fact, the lack of loyalty and commitment to the Macarthur region was brought up again and again by our readers.

So we took your concerns, dear readers, to the Wests Tigers. We asked them what could be done to increase crowd numbers, how fans could interact more with the players, how the game could be promoted more and whether they were still committed to Campbelltown.

Tiger Talk received a long, detailed list of the club’s local community activities and engagements. It was extensive and did prove a great deal of effort had been made to interact with the community, through school visits, healthy living programs, promoting multiculturalism, encouraging female rugby league participation, charitable endeavours and significant grass roots participation.

We were told the club put just as much promotion into the Titans game as they do any other home game and there was no preferential treatment of Leichhardt over Campbelltown.

A written statement from Wests Tigers chief executive Justin Pascoe said the variety of community activities the club engaged in was all the proof we needed of their dedication to the area.

“Wests Tigers are committed to the Campbelltown region which is clearly demonstrated by our investment into our community programs,” the statement read. “The club is confident that this approach will continue to strengthen our position in the region for many years to come. Wests Tigers have played games at Campbelltown Sports Stadium since 2000, showing more commitment to bringing professional sport to the region than any other club or code.”

Suffice to say, we weren’t satisfied with their response – and we expect you aren’t either.

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If you’re interested, you can read the complete list of community activities the Wests Tigers sent to us below.

Wests Tigers involvement in the Campbelltown Region

Wests Tigers have significantly increased their focus on community, resulting in the formation of the club’s first Community Strategy that provides a structure for our work in the community. This, in conjunction with the club’s mission statement of ‘Enriching the lives of our Communities’ has seen the club improve its community involvement.

This community strategy is based around 6 key pillars: Multicultural, Women, Grass Roots, Indigenous, Education and Healthy Living. This program is continually evolving and below are just some of the examples of initiatives that the club currently has in place in the Campbelltown region.

Education

·      Our Wests Tigers Teach program sees over 100,000 students a year, most of which are in the Campbelltown region. This includes topics such as anti-bullying, healthy living, well being and goal-setting.

·      The Wests Tigers Careers Assembly involves our senior management team visiting schools, most in the Campbelltown region, delivering messages on goal setting, career development and how they got to the positions that they did. In 2016 and 2017 this program has presented to over 1,000 students in the Campbelltown and surrounding region.

·      The Hope Program works with Campbelltown Police on identified students to educate them on goal setting.

·      Community Carnival delivered a message to over 60 schools in one day in 2016. In 2017, we increased this to 85 schools and only included primary schools as this is capacity.

·      Wests Tigers Mentor Program works with the Campbelltown St Vincent De Pauls and matches up individuals from their services to a member of our staff to provide a friendship and mentor in their lives.

·      Claymore Connects: This is a new program being developed with Macquarie Fields Police, based around healthy relationships and focuses on youth in the Claymore region.

·      Unity workshops based around healthy relationships have been performed at James Meehan High School.

·      “Tigerize Your Classroom” saw entries from over 10 schools in the Campbelltown region where students theme their classroom as Wests Tigers.

·      Club is currently developing a mentor program with Sarah Redfern Public School, which will work with 10 students identified by them as needing extra support.

·      Club presents at St Gregorys College regularly to their year groups and boarders.

·      Club donates over 50 jerseys a year to schools in the region.

Healthy Living

·      Club has a number of programs in schools that teach rugby league and functional movement skills. These programs are listed below, as are the monthly averages that Wests Tigers reach:

o   Backyard League

§  81 sessions.

§  Approx. 3,240 students

o   Beyond the Goalposts

§  17 sessions.

§  Approx. 510 students

o   Gala Days

§  22 gala days

§  Approx. 6,600 students

o   Sporting Schools

§  9 sessions

§  Approx. 270 students

·      Now on the leadership group of the Campbelltown Wellbeing Forum.

·      Have partnerships with both Triathlon NSW and Touch Football NSW work closely with Campbelltown Touch on promoting junior league.

·      Have a new Wests Tigers Physical Disability Rugby League team, made up of predominately Campbelltown residents.

·      Have a partnership with Campbelltown Hospital which includes visits but also a range of other initiatives to promote healthy living.

Multicultural

·      In League In Harmony is our main multicultural schools program which promotes cohesion and tackles issues such as disengagement, racism, bullying and gender equality. We have run programs at Lurnea High School, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School and Casula High School.

·      Have held two multicultural rounds in Campbelltown in 2016 and 2017 to try and engage new cultures to rugby league, as well as the Pacific Youth Summit held in Campbelltown.

·      Developing a new multicultural program in the Campbelltown region which will use rugby league as a platform to bring different cultures together and deal with social issues, whilst introducing them to a new sport and new social setting.

Women

·      Female rugby league team is comprised of a number of local Campbelltown students.

·      Currently developing a female specific leadership program with MWLP to target Campbelltown schools.

·      Host a number of women events in Campbelltown such as movie nights, rugby league education nights and others.

Grass Roots

·      Relationships with the Western Suburbs Junior Rugby League is as close as ever and have structures in place now to increase our presence and engagement with junior league clubs.

·      Conduct Junior League Training visits throughout the year where our full squad is split up across venues.

·      Staff and players attend the Junior league presentation night.

·      Staff and players attend Grand Finals and Gala Days to present awards.

·      Staff are involved in the Back to Juniors Round.

·      Junior league clubs play at half time of our home games.

·      Have junior holiday clinics throughout the year which engage with locals of student age involving players, Wests Tigers staff and giveaways.

·      Involved in the Western Sydney Camp at St Gregs College in school holidays.

·      Each junior club gets a signed Wests Tigers jersey.

·      Every junior league participant receives a Wests Tigers membership card and access to all home games.

·      Each month, every junior league club is awarded a junior player and volunteer of the month award which gets them a certificate, tickets and website recognition.

·      Present at 5 junior registration days and advertised over 15 more.

·      Host a junior league education night at Wests Leagues Club involving Justin Pascoe, head coach and pathways to give insight to volunteers and coaches about administration, fundraising and coaching of a club.

Indigenous

·      School 2 Work program works with a number of schools in the Campbelltown region, focusing on mentoring indigenous students through years 10-12 to convert into a career or further study. This program currently has a 98% success rate.

·      Are about to launch the club’s first ever Reconciliation Action Plan, which has a number of key initiatives which will be executed in the club’s regions.

Charity Partnerships

·      Have a range of charity partnerships, but the two most relevant to Campbelltown are:

o   PCYC Campbelltown- Work closely with PCYC Campbelltown on a range of initiatives and are now actually on the Committee. This will include membership initiatives, promotions, fundraising and various programs.

o   White Ribbon- Are on the White Ribbon Committee in Campbelltown and looking to expand our role with a number of initiatives including school programs and community engagement.

·      Other charity partnerships include Beyondblue, Exodus Foundation, Feel The Magic, Soldier On and Edmund Rice Camps.

Other Involvement

Now have a close relationship with Campbelltown Council and often activate at the majority, if not all events in the region including council events, school events and other community events.

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