Opinion: Sport divides us but also unites us

Sport can divide us but the positives it provides outweigh the rivalries and tension it creates.

As a sports nut, I remember watching the Stawell Gift on Easter Monday each year and for the first time I got to experience the buzz and atmosphere of the event this year in person.

The finals day was everything I expected and more, with plenty of colour and excitement around the track from early in the morning.

The history and prestige of not just the event but also of the Central Park is evident immediately after walking through the gate, and people who have lived in Stawell should never take these sorts of things for granted.

For 135 times prior, athletes of all ages and backgrounds competed for the honour of being the Stawell Gift winner and Victorian Matthew Rizzo was the latest to etch his name in history.

The event is more than just about who is the first person across the finish line, it brings together a community with common interests to celebrate a rich tradition in a small country town.

To see the crowd cheer on young children competing in the little athletics events to seasoned athletes competing in masters events, there is not many things that unites such a diverse range of people as sport.

The Gift is a staple on the sporting calendar with athletes travelling from across the nation to compete, and it is important we continue to support these kinds of events within our community.

Athletics was not even the only sport on offer in the Grampians during the Easter weekend with the first ever Good Friday football match attracting plenty of interest at the afternoon game.

It might just be what the Ararat and Stawell rivalry needs to take it to the next step and add that bit more spice to the match.

Both teams are keen to grow it into an even bigger occasion in 2018, with Ararat set to take on the hosting duties.

Sporting clubs are like a family for all involved, and it is interesting that these matches are taking on added importance on a weekend where families spend most of their time together for an extra two days.

The Grampians region continues to attract big names and big events and now has big events on each day of Easter.

So while families enjoy quality time together, the wider sporting community gathers and relies on the smaller families within to keep growing the different events.