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Sport in South Australia

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Sport in South Australia

Australian rules football: AAMI Stadium
Cricket: Second test of the 2006-07 Ashes series at the Adelaide Oval
Association football (soccer): Adelaide United at Hindmarsh Stadium

Sports play an important role in the business, community, social and cultural life throughout Australia. Participation and success in high performance sport and regular health and fitness opportunities in community and grassroots sports are an important part of an active, healthy life for men, women and children across South Australia (SA).

South Australia has produced successful Olympians, Paralympians, Commonwealth Games representatives, World Champions and National Champions across a wide range of individual and team sports. Regional and rural opportunities to participate in sport plays an important role in community life throughout SA.[1] SA has developed a range of programs in supporting inclusive sports pathways focusing on specific populations groups such as indigenous, mature-aged, early childhood, people with disabilities and women.[2]

Sport as entertainment plays an important role with South Australia having the second highest rate of event attendance of all states and territories with 49% of South Australians aged 15 years and over attending a sporting event each year.[3]

Significant sporting events in South Australia include the Tour Down Under', Clipsal 500, Adelaide Cup, International Cricket series and hosting various Australian Swimming Championships. Major events have been shown to bring significant economic benefit to the state.[4]

South Australian-based teams are represented in all major professional sporting codes including Adelaide Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club in the Australian Football League, the Redbacks and Scorpions in Cricket, Adelaide United in the A-League and W-League, Adelaide 36ers in the National Basketball League and Adelaide Lightning in the Women's National Basketball League, and the Adelaide Thunderbirds in the ANZ Championship for Netball.

The most popular spectator sports in South Australia by attendance are Australian Rules football (31%), motor sports (14%), horse racing (8%), cricket (5%) and soccer (4%).[5]

South Australia boasts world class venues for high performance sport including the Adelaide Super-Drome, Netball SA Stadium, Hindmarsh Stadium and the South Australian Government has recently undertaken a major project redeveloping the iconic Adelaide Oval.

All major sporting codes within South Australia field representative teams on the National stage. South Australia's official sporting colours are red, blue and gold.

List: South Australian Women in Sport


  • Participation 1
  • High Performance Sport 2
  • Individual Sports 3
    • Golf 3.1
    • Tennis 3.2
    • Other 3.3
  • Team Sports 4
    • Australian Rules Football 4.1
    • Netball 4.2
    • Cricket 4.3
    • Association football (soccer) 4.4
    • Baseball 4.5
    • Basketball 4.6
    • Lacrosse 4.7
    • Hockey 4.8
    • Softball 4.9
    • Rugby League 4.10
    • Rugby Union 4.11
    • Gridiron (American Football) 4.12
    • Other teams 4.13
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Research shows two thirds of South Australians are involved in sport or recreation with around forty percent of those involved, participating in organised sporting activities. Significantly people from regional areas are more likely to participate through a club based structure and are more likely to volunteer and to be a spectator than those in the Adelaide metropolitan area. It is estimated regional communities have an estimated one third of adults participating in exercise recreation and sport via a club or association and almost a quarter are involved as a coach, official, umpire or administrator.[1]

Participation rates for males and females are similar and while overall, participation rates decline with age it was more so with males, while women's participation rates remain constant until they are over the age of 65.[1]

Research shows Walking, Running, Swimming, Aerobics/Fitness, Golf, Lawn Bowls, Weigh Training and Cycling to be the most popular sports with strong participation by both men and women in South Australia.[1] Historically not all sports have been available to women but that has changed with equal opportunity laws targeting discrimination based on gender.

Differences in participation rates by men and women relate to the Football codes and Netball, which have in the past been limited by opportunities for participation by genders not traditionally associated with the sport.[1]

High Performance Sport

South Australia has a diverse and rich sporting history with incredible successes at national and international level by its sports men and women. The establishment of the 'South Australian Sports Institute in 1982 played a role in supporting individuals and team sports in reaching their goals. Currently it has high performance programs for Rowing, Paralympic, Netball, Canoe Sprint, Swimming, Cycling, Trampoline, Diving, Volleyball, Hockey and Waterpolo and conducts Talent search activities throughout the state.[6]

Individual Sports

South Australia has produced successful Olympians, Paralympians, Commonwealth Games and other individual sports.


Golf is a popular sport right across South Australia. The state has produced successful professional golfers including Jane Crafter and Tamie Durdin.


South Australia has produced world-class tennis players including Lleyton Hewitt, John Fitzgerald, Mark Woodforde, Darren Cahill, Roger Rasheed and Alicia Molik.


South Australia has many produced successful world champions including Vicki Cardwell(Squash), and Kylie Halliday(Sport Aerobics).

Team Sports

Australian Rules Football

Australian rules football is the most popular spectator sport in South Australia with an attendance level [of at least one match per year] of 31% of the population compared with a national average of 16%.[3]

Two South Australian teams participate in the Australian Football League; Adelaide Football Club, known as the Crows, and Port Adelaide Football Club, nicknamed the Power. South Australia also has domestic competition which is strongly supported, the South Australian National Football League.

In 1990 a group of women established the South Australian Women's Football League after an exhibition match against Victoria. The league has seen seven of its state representatives making the All Australian team which is selected from participants at the AFL Women's National Championships.

In May 2013, the Australian Football League created a 'draft' for women to form two teams from the top 50 women Australian Rules Footballers in the nation to participate in an exhibition game before the Round 14 Melbourne versus Bulldogs AFL teams.[7] Many South Australian women chose to nominate. Melbourne Demons drafted Alexandra Price from Port Adelaide FC and Bronwyn Davey from Greenacres FC while Western Bulldogs drafted Courtney Cramey, Morphetville Park.


Netball is a significant sport in South Australia with a wide range of participation opportunities across metropolitan, regional and rural locations within the state.

Netball offers participants pathways which may lead to a professional career. The Adelaide Thunderbirds have participated in the premier netball league in Australasia, winning premierships in 1998, 1999 in the CBT, and 2010 in the ANZ Championship. Many South Australian players have represented Australia, including World Championship player and Australian Captain Natalie von Bertouch, Rebecca Sanders and Kathryn Harby-Williams.

South Australia also participates in the Australian Netball League, a national competition that bridges the gap between State League competitions and the ANZ Championship. In 2012, the Southern Force took out the title.[8]

Netball continues to have a strong metro, regional and intrastate competition throughout South Australia with around 70,000 men and women participating across the state.[1]


Cricket is a popular sport in South Australia and attracts big crowds in the men's game at the top level. It is popular with both boys and girls at community level and there are high performance pathways available for men and women. South Australia's representative cricket teams, the Redbacks for men and the SA Scorpions for women participate in national competitions.

SA has produced outstanding Australian cricketers in both the men's and women's games including Victor Richardson, Terry Jenner, Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, David Hookes, Shaun Tait, Lyn Fullston, Jill Kennare and Karen Rolton. Karen Rolton, a left-handed batsman and occasional left-arm medium-paced bowler, has scored the most runs for Australia in women's Test cricket and SA Scorpion's player Lauren Ebsary was part of the successful 2013 Australian Women's World Cup victory.

South Australia's men have had thirteen Sheffield Shield victories with their last Shield success coming in 1995-96.[9] South Australia's women have won five national championships with wins in 1951/52, 1979/80 and an outstanding era of wins in 1992/93, 1993/94, and 1994/95.

Association football (soccer)

South Australia's sole representative in the national A-League competition is Adelaide United FC. So far, they have not won an A-league Grand Final, but have won two pre-season cups and have made the finals every year except for 2009 and 2012 since the A-league started in 2005. Adelaide United have been one of the most successful teams in the A-league, despite failing to win an A-league Grand Final in two attempts. They have qualified for the AFC Champions League 4 times, making them the most represented club in Australia. Of these appearances they made the round of 16 in 2010, were runners up in 2008, and have made the round of 16 in the ongiong 2012 AFC Champions League Their home ground is Hindmarsh Stadium, which has a capacity of 17,000, 500 of which is standing room.

SASi Pirates were National Champions in 1997 and 98 in Women's National Soccer League. Adelaide United 'Lady Reds' compete in the current national competition, the W-League. The state has produced Australian representatives such as Sharon Black and Dianne Alagich who have contributed to the international success of the Matlidas.


South Australia is home to Baseball SA, which has a 12 club division 1 competition in the Adelaide metropolitan area.

Adelaide was also home to the former Adelaide Giants in the defunct Australian Baseball League. A new baseball league was approved by the SA sports commission and started in November 2010. Adelaide's team is called the Adelaide Bite. They play their home games at Norwood Oval.


South Australia has a long history of producing outstanding representatives which have shaped and influenced Australia's high international standing in both men's and women's basketball. High profile players include Olympians and Adelaide 36ers Mike McKay and Phil Smyth. The Adelaide 36ers won NBL Championships in 1986, 1998, 1998–99, 2001–02.

In the women's game SA has produced outstanding Olympians including Rachael Sporn, Erin Phillips and Laura Hodges. SA teams have won numerous national championships, with North Adelaide winning in 1990, and Adelaide Lightning creating a historic era of success in 1994, 95, 96 and 1998 where it won 4 out of 5 National Championship Finals in the WNBL. Adelaide Lightning won again in 2007/2008.


South Australia has dominated the Women's Lacrosse National Championships having won 32 out of 51 National championships since competitions started in 1961. South Australia won regularly during the 60's and 70's but in 1985 begun its total domination when it won the first of 11 National Championships in a row.[10]

SA Coach Peter Koshnitsky having established a women's lacrosse program with the South Australian Sports Institute helped forge this success in partnership with outstanding leader and Australian & State captain and World Champion, Jenny Williams and other players of this era. The legacy of this era was highlighted by the continued success by South Australian teams at national championship level with success in 1997 and a further run of wins with six in a row from 1999 until 2005.

South Australia has produced significant players during this period who have had incredible careers at international level contributing importantly to the 1986 and 2005 IFWLA World Championship victories.[11] Many South Australian players have also had success in the United State's NCAA Women's Lacrosse Competition including Hannah Nielsen and arguably the world's best player, Australian World Champion, Jen Adams.

In Men's Lacrosse South Australia has won 12 National Championships including three in a row from 2001 - 2003, and won again in 2012. In 2003 Peter Inge became the first Australian to play in Major League Lacrosse in the USA.


South Australia has produced many fine international representatives and successful Olympians as part of the powerhouse performances of Australian Hockey on the international stage. Kookaburras representatives include Robert Haigh, Trevor Smith, Paul Lewis and Craig Victory.[12]

South Australian women have featured prominently in the Hockeyroos. In fact in 1914 in the very first Australian women’s test vs England, SA had five players in the Australian team as well as coach Judy Smith.[12] In the 1980s and 90s, South Australia saw many fine players achieving Olympic success including Sandra Pisani, Juliet Haslam and Alison Peek. State representative team SASI Suns won the National Championship in 1995 and the Southern Suns won in 2011 competing in the Australian Hockey League.


South Australia last won the national championship in 1956 but has produced representatives at international and Olympic level including Tracey Moseley and Simmone Morrow.

Rugby League

The state rugby league federation is the South Australian Rugby League[13] The game traces its roots in the state back to the 1940s, when the Port Adelaide rugby union team split in four, and defected to rugby league.

South Australia's only professional rugby league team, the Adelaide Rams, had a short but eventful existence. Originally the Australian Rugby League planned to relocate a Sydney team to Adelaide but the Super League war and the SARL's decision to align themselves with the News Ltd Super League in 1995 slowed down progress. Later in 1995, with Super League still only consisting of nine teams and Melbourne still aligned with the ARL, a decision was made to give Adelaide the 10th Super League license.[14]

Brought into existence for the 1997 Super League season, the team had instant success. In 1998 they were selected to join the 20-team National Rugby League, however rumours abounded that they were to be axed from the 1999 season as part of a rationalisation of teams (from 20 to 14) in the competition. At present however, the South Australian Rugby League still operates a local semi-professional competition consisting of both junior and adult teams from across Adelaide.

Rugby Union

The South Australian Rugby Union or "SA Rugby" is the governing body in the state.[1]

Adelaide also hosts a rugby sevens tournament. The tournament consists of multiple national teams of seven players that represent their country. [2]

Gridiron (American Football)

Gridiron is played in the South Australian Gridiron Association. Current teams are the Southern District Oilers, South City Chiefs, Eastside Razorbacks, Port Adelaide Spartans and the Adelaide Eagles.

South Australia also fields a state team known as the SA Swarm.

Other teams


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Out & About: State Report". SA Government. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Inclusion". SA Government. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Sports attendance in Australia Australian Bureau of Statistics
  4. ^ "An economic impact study of the 1998 Adelaide Test Match". SA Government. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Sports Attendance in South Australia". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "SASI Sport Programs". SA Government. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "Women in AFL draft". News Limited. 
  8. ^ "2112 Australian Netball League results". Netball Australia. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  9. ^ "A brief history of SA Cricket".  
  10. ^ "Women's Lacrosse Results". Australian Lacrosse Association. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "World Event History". Federation of International Lacrosse. 
  12. ^ a b "Hockeyroos by year". Hockey Australia. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  13. ^ LeagueNet - South Australian Rugby League
  14. ^ Rugby League History - - Adelaide Rams

External links

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