Sports clubs punt on a shire thing

SPORT:

Hundreds of regional and remote sporting clubs throughout Australia are moving to the Cronulla Shire or close nearby to improve their chances of a Sporting Australia grant next time around.

And estate agents throughout the shire – indeed the entire federal electorate of Cook – are reporting a surge in property values as the football, cricket, tennis, athletics, rowing, fishing and many other sports clubs seek new home grounds and plan facilities for their members.

“You’ve got to remember that the next federal election is only two-and-a-bit years away now and we need to have our submissions in well before Mr Morrison starts allocating the next tranche of Sporting Australia grants,” one club executive told The Bug.

Maud Branstone, honourary secretary of the Ceduna Junior Australian Rules Club north-west of Adelaide, explained how desperate the club had become for help after missing out in any share of the $100 million, three-stage Sporting Australia grants process leading up to the May 2019 general election.

“We don’t have any turf out here, of course, and we had asked Sports Australia for help to replace the quartz gravel that covers our two playing fields with nice rounded river pebbles to cut down on the horrific injury toll our youngsters suffer each season,” Maud explained.

“We had raised half the funds for the work and we’d heard our submission for help rated at 81 per cent on the SA criteria.

“Unfortunately we lost out but we accept whoever got our money was also a sporting club, was also located in Australia and had also applied for a grant so I guess everything was fair and above board.

“But we desperately need to do this work so our committee met and decided moving the club to the Cronulla Shire was our only hope.

“We are just so excited to think that our children will one day be playing on lush green turf if they can afford the trip east.”

Maud said her club had found land in Gymea in the federal electorate of Cook for their new playing fields and the club planned to start work immediately, despite a hefty shortfall in the funds needed.

“We got a call from Mr Morrison’s electoral office telling us “not to worry about it” and to start work.

“Shortly after, the PM turned up with a photographer and gave us a large novelty cheque,” Maud said.

The club’s relocation move was endorsed by the Menindee Lakes Carp Fishing Club which has also decided to relocate to the Cronulla Shire, in the words of club president Les Baker, “hook, line and sinker”.

“Our clubhouse on Menindee Lakes does have separate men’s and women’s lavatories but we’ve failed now in seven consecutive SA grant submissions to install pedestals in them as well.

“Unfortunately, although we spent hundreds of hours preparing our submission which we believe rated 79 percent on the SA approval scale, we lost out once again but we accept whoever got our money was also a sporting club, was also located in Australia and had also applied for a grant so I guess everything was fair and above board.”

Les said the club had already made an offer on suitable land adjoining the Georges River at Como in the north-western edge of the federal electorate of Cook.

“It’s close enough to Cronulla Shire and it looks ideal for our new clubhouse but we accept we’re going to have to bring our own carp.”

Les said his committee planned to start building shortly, despite a hefty shortfall in the funds needed.

“We got a call from Mr Morrison’s electoral office telling us “not to worry about it” and to start work.

“Shortly after, the PM turned up with a photographer and gave us a large novelty cheque.