Australian Football clubs have traditionally been seen as contributing social benefits to the rural communities in which they are embedded. Declining numbers of participants, both players and volunteers, suggest that this role may not be as strong today. Critical explorations of the extent to which football has driven social inclusion and exclusion in such environments emphasizes a historic masculine culture of drinking and violence that segregates and marginalizes women and children. Less is known about the contemporary strategic efforts of clubs to use social capital to support their activities, and whether the resources they generate have positive impacts on social inclusion in the wider community. We use evidence from the Parliament of Victoria’s Inquiry into Country Football (2004) to explore the current focus of rural Australian Football clubs regarding social inclusion, in light of changes occurring in society and rural towns in the 21st century.
Lionel Frost is with the Department of Economics, Monash University, Berwick, Victoria, Australia. Margaret Lightbody is with the Department of Accounting, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Abdel K. Halabi is with the Department of Accounting & Finance, Monash University, Churchill, Victoria, Australia.