Sporting talent in Teachers’ Games

Compete: The Victorian Teachers' Games were held in the first week of the school holidays in Latrobe Valley. Photograph: Zaida Glibanovic




ONE, two, three eyes on me said teachers during the most recent school holidays as the annual Victorian Teachers’ Games (VTG) took place across several Latrobe City venues including the Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium (GRISS).

Over the Term 3 break from Sunday, September 17 to Wednesday, September 20 education staff from across Victoria came to the GRISS to showcase their sporting talent.

The VTG is a major multi-sport event on the education calendar and gives professionals a chance to connect and socialise through a broad range of sporting, recreation, wellness and social events.

Educators across Victoria view the event as a unique way to build team morale and improve staff health and wellbeing.

Participants can enter as an individual or group in more than 35 activities.

Project officer of the Victorian Teacher’s Games, Adam Drinkwell said this year’s games were the first time the event had come to Gippsland for over a decade.

“The first edition of the Games started in 1996 down in Geelong, so this is the 26th edition … but this will be the first time we’ve been to Latrobe City since the early 2000s,” he said.

With recent upgrades and developments of local infrastructure in the build up to the cancelled Commonwealth Games, the Latrobe City was identified as an ideal host venue.

Mr Drinkwell said schools from as far as Echuca, Shepparton and Bendigo came to stay, eat and play in the region.

“We (had) nearly 1200 across the four days and they participated in 35 different events in a range of recreation, sporting and wellness activities,” Drinkwell said.

Teachers and staff could participate in a range of activities from meditation to dodgeball, there was a little something for everyone.

Participants from far and wide often compete in multiple events, providing a massive tourism opportunity for the region.

Though the Victoria School Sports team will conduct a study to find out how much economic activity the event attracted, it is estimated that the Latrobe Valley will receive close to $2 million in economic activity as a result of the Games.

Additionally, School Sport Victoria said Gippsland and Latrobe Valley schools have really got behind this years event in their backyard.

“We’ve had a good representation from Gippsland schools and Latrobe Valley based schools as well, we’ve seen nearly a 300 per cent increase on the last year of engagement from Gippsland schools,” Drinkwell said.

Social lawn bowls attracted 400 people, being among the most popular of events and in six sessions of netball more than 350 educational professionals chose to don the colourful bibs and give their best ‘here if you need!’.

People working in all sectors and employment of the education system from educational support, relief teachers and administration came down to the Games to connect and show off their athletic ability.

Chief executive of School Sport Victoria Hilary Shelton said the region was selling its charm.

“Their showing off their home towns,” she said in regard to the high participation rate of Gippsland schools,” she said.

Amid the education sectors widespread concern of teacher shortages, under staffing and burnout, the Victorian Teachers’ Games offered a great opportunity for staff to relax, rewind and reconnect.

“It certainly gives the the teachers something to look forward to it gives them some motivation before they head back into Term 4 – lets them relax and spend time with each other,” Shelton said

“No one understands how much pressure they have in their jobs other than the other people who do the job, so I guess it’s a lot of camaraderie and support for each other – it is a good boost for their mental health and wellbeing.”

School Sport Victoria extended a warm gratitude to Latrobe City Council who were eager to host the event.

Latrobe City Council proudly welcomed more than 1000 Victorian educators to the region for the 2023 Victorian Teachers’ Games, after securing a two-year agreement as host.

Latrobe City Mayor Kellie O’Callaghan said the two-year hosting agreement will have enormous economic benefits and boost tourism to the region.

“We welcomed the opportunity to host the Victorian Teachers Games in Latrobe City as it has given us the opportunity to attract new visitors and showcase what our Gippsland region has to offer,” the Mayor said.

“It also provides great support for our accommodation and hospitality businesses.

“It was fantastic to see many of our valued local education staff play sport, connect with other Victorian teachers and build team morale. We are looking forward to welcoming the Games and participants back again next year and continuing our reputation as a destination for major events.”

Council is eager to welcome everyone back next year.