Play like you are in the backyard

With the holidays just passed, there was not a day that I didn’t see my kids out in the backyard playing football, soccer and cricket, or in the driveway shooting hoops.

Being in their teenage years, it was my parental expectation that they would hibernate in their rooms, particularly in the world of Instagram, Snap chat and Tik Tok. My children however, have always played outside, even from a young age. It made me smile that they are still staying active. As parents we have played many a game of backyard cricket with them, in fact I am sure it’s my bowling in the backyard that inspired my son to become a fast bowler!

We have always sought a house that had a decent backyard to accommodate the sports we like to play…although we never could afford a tennis court (maybe one day).

It makes me reminisce back to the days of my childhood. I spent many hours building cubby houses, climbing trees, practicing my bend-backs and tumbling. We played endless games of shooting hoops and 3 on 3 basketball, with my older sister’s friends (long before it was officially called that). Our double car driveway was extra wide and flat with a hoop on a brick wall, perfect size for a half basketball court.

It brought us together… until one of us got bored, too tired or spat the dummy!

I have listened intently to elite female athletes being interviewed by Sam Squires with her “On Her Game” podcasts. They all had fond memories of playing sport with their siblings in the back yard. That’s where their passion for sport began and perhaps their competitive edge, that has made them great.

There are many great athletes that are siblings. The Waugh brothers, the Mortimer brothers, the Morrison twins, the Burgess brothers, the Esposito Family, the Starc family, Simms siblings and the recent article I shared about the Cummins crew. These are just a few from Australia, of course one can never surpass the Williams sisters in America. But no matter where you are in the world, I am sure in whatever country you are in and what ever sports you do, you could think of many more!

If anything, this reiterates the importance of having a backyard. I look at new estate developments with tiny back yards as well as the increasing high density living areas, particularly near train stations. I wonder what space they use to play?

The importance of enough green space cannot be over estimated. A place where these kids can get out and kick a ball or shoot hoops. A place to play and be active that is close to home and available to use.

I look at places like Waitara Oval and think, “Thank god that is there, among the medium to high density living.” But is it enough? Even in our local area, with most backyards being a decent size, the cricket nets are always packed, the half court basketball is being used and the ovals when not booked by formal sport or training, taken up by dog owners or informal sports.

From a usage perspective, councils and sports groups collect as much data as they can, but it’s the informal use that is hard to gauge. It’s the people that are using these parks as their “backyards” that the usage data is tricky to capture. Although it’s a data driven world, sometimes it helps to take a step back and just observe. Look at your community, see what the local people are doing and work out how to best accommodate their needs. As planner we use several consultation methods and surveys to gather this information.

Perhaps it is a gentle reminder for those who are letting high density development happen, stand your ground on the provision of adequate and quality green spaces. Who knows how it will affect our upcoming generations of elite sports athletes if we don’t!

Yvette Audet

Yvette Audet

Sport has been an integral part of my life, both work and personal. I grew up with sport, met my husband through sport and now as a mother, am involved more than ever in sport!

As a trainer and consultant in the industry I work with sporting groups and councils to create community facilities and partnerships aimed to increase sport participation.

I have created a range of articles from the perspective of a SPORTING MUM. The articles relate life skills and messages that we can get from being involved in sport. It’s uncanny how Sport can mirror life.


Involved in gymnastics, netball and athletics from an early age, Yvette experienced being part of a team as well as the unrelentless discipline in individual sport – in particular her Heptathlon days.

First became a mum in 2005 and remembers having the inner debate of how long should I play netball while pregnant? Doing quick breastfeeds in between netball games and hoping her uterus wouldn’t feel like falling out when she jumped for the ball.

Funny anecdotes aside, she has worked in the sport and recreation industry for almost 30 years and holds several certificates and degrees around the management and training of sport, community recreation, aquatics and fitness.

Through her various roles in profit and non-profit sectors, she has helped plan for programs, events and facilities to help get communities active through sport and recreation.