Young Australians are being encouraged to shed their COVID-19 blues and return to sports fields.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged another $20 million for the Sporting Schools program which would see it expanded to include up to 700,000 students in years 9 and 10 if his government is re-elected.

Mr Morrison said no one in Australia had done it tougher during the pandemic than the children of Victoria.

“They’re looking forward, they’re putting that behind them and they know the opportunities that are ahead,” he told media in Melbourne on Saturday.

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“The competition is on, they’re playing sport again, they’re with their mates, they’re at school, they’re getting life back to normal – it’s exciting.

“The country is in a very similar position.”

Victoria endured more than 260 days in lockdown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any other state in Australia.

Mr Morrison said Australia was heading into a time of great opportunity, and he and the government were shifting gears to secure them.

“We need to get (children) off those phones and get them on the field,” he said.

“They can have fun with their devices … but we want them out there running around.

“We are moving into a golden decade of major events for sport in this country.”

This month will see international soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona head down to the Pacific for the first time for a friendly in Sydney. 

Australia, along with New Zealand, will also host the Women’s Soccer World Cup in July next year.

LATEST 24-HOUR COVID-19 DATA:

NSW: 9036 cases, four deaths, 1377 in hospital and 59 in ICU 

Victoria: 10,197 cases, 10 deaths, 528 in hospital, 27 in ICU