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Sporting stars get behind October’s Australian Masters Games

The Games will welcome teams and competitors from New Zealand and other neighbouring countries.

The Games will welcome teams and competitors from New Zealand and other neighbouring countries. Photo: Australian Masters Games

The Australian Masters Games are about attracting the young at heart and those who like to get together and compete for the thrill of the competition and the social interaction.

But with the 2023 Games on the horizon, the legends are also getting behind the October event, encouraging those in their sport and others to give it a crack.

The week-long festival, to be held in Adelaide from October 7-14, is promising to be bigger than ever with 10,000 people and their support crews set to participate in more than 50 sports.

Some of the biggest names in Australian sport are getting behind the Games, including three-time Olympic basketball medallist Rachael Sporn, former Socceroos captain Aurelio Vidmar, one of Australia’s greatest wicketkeepers Ian Healy, former Australian netball captain Vicki Wilson and world pickleball champ Sarah Burr.

Wilson, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Australian Sports Hall of Fame member and 15-year Diamonds veteran, said the games were about more than just competing.

Australian Masters Games

Registrations are open for more than 40 sports, with another 10 to be added in the coming weeks. Photo: Australian Masters Games

“To connect with others who live outside your community is wonderful and it is the spirit of the competition which is exciting. The Masters gives people that opportunity to travel away with a group of people who become their best friends,” Wilson said.

“I admire anyone who plays competitive sport after the age of 40. To me, they are still keeping the body in shape and you have that competitive desire.”

Vidmar has returned to Adelaide from coaching in Thailand and was looking forward to being involved in the Games.

“It’s fantastic to be back in Adelaide among family, friends and my old teammates, and I’m hoping they’ll all dust off their boots and come and compete in October,” he said.

Sporn, who is active in the basketball community, has also jumped in.

“We’re looking forward to joining in on the fun and celebrations at this year’s Australian Masters Games, in our home city. We see this year’s event as a week-long celebration of our heritage and history,” she said.

Former Australian cricketer, Brisbane-born Ian Healy, has previously played golf at the Games. He described the week of activities as “like schoolies for the over-30s.”

Masters Games are about getting together with sporting mates and having a go, with no qualification standards. Photo: Australian Masters Games

“My advice to those participants is to stay close to the Festival Plaza if you can … all those hotels that are right there, stay close, as you’ll enjoy every night in the village,” Healy said.

The 119-Test Australian wicketkeeper said it was important to stay fit and healthy, and getting involved in Masters competitions enabled people to be competitive, no matter what age.

Gold Coast-based Sarah Burr talks about the Major League Pickleball franchise with which she played and fondly describes it as pretty crazy.

Former NFL champion Larry Fitzgerald, superstar swimmer Michael Phelps, Phoenix Suns basketball All-Star Devin Booker and country music singer Dierks Bentley are among the owners of AZ Drive, which drafted Burr into its four-person team for a tournament in January.

Burr, who only took up pickleball two years ago and has since competed around the world, said she had seen the sport completely change lives, particularly for former tennis and squash players.

“It is super accessible and is for all ages from two to 100,” Burr said. “It’s inclusive and you play with people in wheelchairs regularly. It is cool like that, and fun for everyone.”

While there will be former Olympians and Australian sporting stars taking part, the Masters Games are about getting together with sporting mates and having a go, with no qualification standards.

Ages range from 30 upwards in all but swimming and gymnastics (Masters start at 18). The oldest competitor to sign up so far has been tennis player Henry Young, who will turn 100 in September.

General manager Jane Woodlands-Thompson said people loved reigniting rivalries, and this year an Intercol challenge had been set between intra-state and interstate schools.

Collegians who used to travel to play against each other on that never-to-be-forgotten trip or the neighbouring school they were desperate to beat are reaching out to rivals to face off again.

“Sport is synonymous with rivalries – whether it’s between corporate giants, the big four banks, law firms nationally or neighbouring Masters sports clubs,” Ms Woodlands-Thompson said.

“Whether teams are passionate about winning, or, simply having a go, catching up on the field and afterwards to share an anecdote or two with mates will be well worth heading to Adelaide for.

“Once you choose a sport [or two] – and it could be anything from our traditional sports like softball, touch, rugby, basketball, netball and bowls or a newcomer like yoga sports or pickleball – individuals and teams will have six months to get in shape.”

The Australian Masters Games will welcome teams and competitors from New Zealand and other neighbouring countries, with strong interest already registered from Canada, US, Singapore and Ireland.

For interstate and international visitors, the games team will assist in putting together personalised itineraries for those who enter, to make the most of their stay and see the best of what South Australia has to offer.

Registrations are open for more than 40 sports with another 10 to be added in the coming weeks.

To find out more or to register, including taking advantage of VIP GOLD benefits before they run out, click here: https://australianmastersgames.com/

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