Towering infernos

ALBANY basketballers can now join the only fully constituted club in town following formalisation of the Albany Infernos Basketball Club.

Club president and founding member Karl Kirby said the club spent its off-season last year writing a constitution and getting ratified by the Department of Sport and Recreation.

“There are around 200 teams that play with the Albany Basketball Association but no clubs,” he said.

“Every sport organisation in Albany has clubs; football, netball, soccer, and hockey – they all have clubs.

“Basketball has a long history in Albany and we’re probably the only constituted club to pop up in Albany ever.”

Since forming its first team five seasons ago, the recently ratified club has expanded to 10 teams of both girls and boys, with six coaches.

Kirby said he was proud of the amount of girl teams they had this season.

“We have six girl teams and four boy teams this year,” he said.

“A lot of young girls walk away from the sport when they reach high school.

“I hope that by having club support behind them more girls will stay playing basketball as they get older.”

The Infernos do not have an A-grade team, but Kirby said the club would in future.

“We want to feed kids through the ranks and really get those roots down before getting into A-grade,” he said.

“I would love to see an A-grade team eventually but we need to keep building from a foundational level rather than working from the top down.

“Clubs help support kids work through the ranks and make sure they stay in the sport.”

To join the Albany Infernos Basketball Club, call Kirby on 0427 776 604

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Rugby League kicks off

GREAT Southern Rugby League and touch rugby fans will have the opportunity to sign their kids up to an NRL WA endorsed association next year with the formation of a new junior modified league.

NRL WA operations manager Tony Crowe announced on Wednesday that children aged four to 12 would be able to join the new league for 2019.

“The level of interest in the sport has been extremely high in the region,” he said.

Crowe said the newly introduced sport would only start as a junior’s League for the first season.

“We really want to focus on the grassroots of the sport before we expand into other age groups,” he said.

“We’re expecting to have anywhere from 60 to 80 players to start with, but it could easily be more.”

Crowe said teams from across the Great Southern would be encouraged to join through NRL WA support.

“Ideally we’ll have a few teams from each town,” he said.

“We’ll be targeting schools to get involved and form their own sides.

“Albany will be the hub for people to come and play games but the NRL will help towns establish their own training venues to reduce travel.”

NRL WA have recently turned their focus towards developing their presence in regional areas with South West, Pilbara, Kimberley and Broome sides added to the game.

Crowe said with the large number of people wanting to get involved in League in the Great Southern was the deciding factor for the region to be the next on the list.

For more information on the 2019 Rugby League and touch rugby seasons or to register an expression of interest contact Tony Crowe at

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Hiker sets blistering pace

THE feat of completing the Bibbulmun Track in record time would be enough to satisfy most people, but for Jono Ride, there was barely time for the blisters to heal before setting off on his next adventure.

Ride reached the Bibbulmun Track’s southern terminus in Albany last Wednesday, just 16 days and 14 hours to the minute after setting out from the Kalamunda start-point.

In doing so, he is believed to have become the fastest person to complete the 1005km journey without assistance.

But setting the record was not what inspired Ride to tackle the long hike through the stunning south west of WA.

“I’m a qualified teacher and after not being in the classroom for nearly two years I had to submit an application to start teaching again,” he said.

“When they told me it would take 14 weeks until I could be posted at a school, I found myself significantly unemployed.”

Ride said a quick trip to visit some cousins planted the seed for tackling the Bibbulmun Track.

“I saw a marker for the track when I was driving in the South West and I just thought to myself, ‘I have no reason not to do it’,” he said.

“I was fit, it was the perfect time of year and I hadn’t seen my mate in Albany in a year or so.”

The mate he is referring to is partner in adventuring-crime Leroy Savage, who joined Ride on an epic cycling journey through South America last year (‘Leroy’s great escape’, 11 January).

Although Savage was at the far end of the journey waiting for Ride to arrive in Albany, he was egging him along no less than if they were walking the track together.

“Leroy was making a game out of watching where I was and trying to time meeting up with me on the track,” he said.

“I had my GPS tracker on me, so he could see where I was in real time.”

Despite help and encouragement being just a phone call away, Ride’s intention from the outset was to tackle the entire track without assistance.

“If you do a hike assisted you might as well just walk on a treadmill,” he said.

“When you’re unassisted you have to make sure your timing is perfect for hitting towns.

“If you don’t time it right and hit town too early before the shops open or too late and they’re closed, you’ll miss out on vital supplies.

“It makes it more of a challenge.”

For the last 85km from Denmark to Albany, Ride hot-footed it and walked for 14 hours straight.

“I did 95,000 steps and 14 hours of walking at pace,” he said.

“Doing 10 to 12 hours is pretty standard, but any more than that and you’re dead on your feet.

“You enter another world of pain and exhaustion.”

Having completed the trip that is recommended for six to eight weeks in little more than two, Ride and Savage were already packing their bags for another adventure just days after Ride arrived in Albany.

“We’re going on a secret mission to retrieve a rusted-out car in the desert,” Ride confided in The Weekender.

“I can’t say too much about it, but it’ll be a quick in-and-out adventure.

“Going on trips with Leroy is always good fun because we’ll inevitably get ourselves into a crazy situation but we’ll always get out of it.

“I’m always searching for the kind of fun where you push yourself, hurt yourself or get lost and end up looking back on it in a year or so and thinking, ‘that was some bloody good fun’.”

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Hill climb sell-out

THE chance to drive a bit faster than the speed limit up Albany’s Marine Drive has proven too tempting for motoring enthusiasts, with tickets for the Racewars Sprint selling out in less than 24 hours.

Event director Jonathan Murray said the 3km Middleton Beach Hill Climb had exceeded all expectations for ticket sales.

“The level of interest has been nothing short of astounding,” he said.

“It looks like it will become an iconic headline event in its own right.”

Tickets are still available for the standard competitor entries for the 1/4 mile and 1/2 roll racing sessions at Albany Airport over the March long weekend.

Murray said the future of Racewars would be centered around more non-competitive car culture events.

“Runway racing will continue to underpin the event with strong support for ancillary events like the hill climb,” he said.

“To keep growing we need to increase off-track activities, especially those that make use of the region’s world-class natural advantages and tourism infrastructure.

“Over the run until the December holidays, we’ll be announcing new noncompetitive and social aspects of the event people can participate in as we look to grow the event.”

Murray said Albany’s status as a motorsport town was further cemented following the City of Albany’s approval to purchase land for the Great Southern Motorplex last month.

“Albany has been at the heart of WA’s motorsport history since the 1930s,” he said.

“With new developments like the Great Southern Motorplex now on the horizon, Albany is ideally positioned to further entrench its position at the heart of our community.

“Ultimately motorsport, while not to everyone’s taste, is to everyone’s benefit both socially and economically.

“It’s great to see Albany capitalise on the opportunities this sector presents.”

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Corben rises through the ranks

RISING motocross star Corben Weinert brought home a bit of extra luggage from his recent trip to Tasmania where he competed in the Australian Junior Motocross Titles.

The 16-year-old placed third in the 125cc division and now has his sights set higher, having outgrown the junior class.

“It was my first time in Tasmania and it was a great place to compete,” he said.

In a display of consistency, Weinert placed in the top three for four out of five rounds, saving his best for last by winning the final round.

“It was my last time competing in juniors and I’m really stoked that I came out with a win.”

Weinert started his campaign on the senior track two weeks ago in Bunbury and came first in the 250cc class and second in the 450cc class.

“I’m pretty happy with the result,” he said.

“I think my Dad and Pop were pretty surprised that I did so well on my first try in that class.

“I think they were pretty happy with how I did.”

Weinert said motocross was a sport he wanted to pursue for as long as he could.

“I’ll do it until the doctor says I can’t,” he said.

“I would love to get over east and ride on a factory bike and be paid to race.”

Weinert said when he wasn’t ripping around on his motorbike at a mate’s place and learning as he goes, he liked to don a bicycle helmet and hurtle down Albany’s tracks on his mountain bike.

“If I couldn’t ride a dirt bike I would ride mountain bikes instead,” he said.

“I rode in the Urban Downhill this year and I was coming first but crashed majorly and came in second.

“I’ve done national enduro competitions in Queensland too. I just really like the adrenaline.”

Weinert said he was done and dusted for competitions for the rest of the year, but was excited about competing in more senior races in the future.

“Motocross is a great sport and a great way to see new places and meet new people,” he said.

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Principal passes test

ALBANY rider and South Stirling Primary School principal Di Fry had a breakthrough win at the recent Cape to Cape endurance mountain biking event.

Over the four stages of the 210km race, Fry clocked in with a total time of 13 hours, 17 minutes and seven seconds to claim the Masters 3 Women’s division.

Fry has been riding competitively for nearly 10 years and said it all started when her husband bought a couple of hybrid bikes.

“I was a middle to long-distance runner for a long time and started getting too many injuries,” she said.

“I was doing shorter and shorter races and I felt like there was no point in doing it.

“So my husband and I bought a couple of hybrid bikes and started to do a lot of riding together.

“After competing in the Karri Cup in Northcliffe, my husband gave me a mountain bike for my 50th birthday and that was it.

“My strength is in endurance, and mountain biking became my sport.”

Fry has now competed in five Cape to Cape races, but this year was the first time she was rewarded for the long haul with a spot on the podium.

“This was my first time in a new age bracket and I’m definitely the baby of the group,” she joked.

“My previous group had some sensational riders and I had no chance of keeping up with them.”

Fry said she tries to get out for a 25km ride twice a week to keep in tip-top shape for her two competitive endurance rides each year.

“I stick to doing the Karri Cup and Cape to Cape each year for competitions,” she said.

“Cape to Cape is around 210km over four days and the Karri Cup is a 100km event.

“It’s getting longer and longer to recover so I’m not too sure how much longer I’ll be doing two big events.”

Fry said getting involved in mountain biking was something the whole family could do.

“The younger your kids are the more confident on the track and least likely to get hurt,” she said.

“If you trust your bike and trust yourself, you’ll be fine.

“It’s a great sport to get out exercising and to be out in nature.”

Fry said she had time to recover over the Christmas break and get back into the swing of training in time for the Karri Cup in April next year.

“Karri Cup is a fantastic event and has a real community spirit behind it.

“Albany is really missing out on having established mountain bike trails because places like Northcliffe, Margaret River and Pemberton are meccas for riders.”

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Centennial Park smoking ban mooted

ONE footy and two soccer groups have backed a draft policy proposing that game day smokers be banished to nine cigarette spots on the fringe of Albany’s vast Centennial Park sporting precinct.

In a report to be considered by a City committee on October 9, community engagement manager Julie-Ann Gray recommends a ban be slapped on smoking across the precinct that includes Centennial Stadium, and Albany’s main cricket, hockey, athletics and soccer and swimming facilities.

While Ms Gray believes there is a ‘medium’ risk that local media outlets will spread a perception of ‘over-policing’, she recommends that a media blitz follow in the wake of a February 2019 launch of the ban.

She further recommends that venue staff report on patrons’ “smoking/ non-smoking behaviour” and the City conduct an “audit” of cigarette butts before and after the ban’s introduction.

Ms Gray expects the ban will cost $23,000 to implement, including $6000 for radio advertisements and $3500 for cinema ads. Newspaper ads are also proposed.

Albany Sharks Football Club President Geoff Oldfield has offered his organisation’s “support in principle to having the Centennial sporting complex made a smoke free zone”.

“I would like to see sensible designated smoking areas with butt bins to accommodate smokers away from the main buildings and high use areas,” he told the City’s recreation services manager Samantha Stevens.

Great Southern Soccer Association Registrar Jos Pass has told Ms Stevens she supports a ban on smoking, except in designated areas as proposed under the policy, “if there needs to be such areas”.

Meanwhile, Albany Junior Soccer Association President Grace Knowlson has asked the City to prohibit smoking at all playing pitches, clubrooms and canteens when sport is being played.

Under the policy, Centennial Stadium and the 11 sports fields that surround it on the eastern side of the Lockyer Avenue/North Road intersection will have just two designated smoking areas.

The policy would also prohibit smoking at all outdoor events run by the City, and in and around Albany’s library, visitor centre, town hall, airport, Anzac Centre and Vancouver Arts Centre.

Ms Gray recommends that $6750 be spent on the erection of 27 ‘You can’t smoke here’ signs, and $2000 on eight ‘You can smoke here’ signs.

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Bloody battle fought

LOCAL martial arts teacher Daniel McGrath returned from Japan recently after coaching American mixed martial arts fighter Will “The Kill” Chope at a top-level Lethwei tournament.

Lethwei is a Burmese bare-knuckle boxing full contact sport known for being one of the most aggressive and brutal martial arts in the world, mainly because it allows fighters to head-butt their opponents.

McGrath said Chope performed well for his first foray into the bloody sport, while wearing his Albany Fight Fit Martial Arts Centre clobber.

“Will has done heaps of MMA, UFC and Muay Thai style fighting in the past,” he said.

“When he called me to ask if I would coach him for his first Lethwei match I couldn’t book my plane tickets quick enough.”

Chope faced off against seasoned Lethwei fighter Shan Ko, who originates from the sports birthplace, Myanmar.

“It’s a brutal sport and pretty bloody,” McGrath said.

“There wasn’t a win for the night since there weren’t any knock-outs.

“Will’s legs were pretty cut up from Shan’s kicks but he managed to get in a few head-butts and a knee to Shan’s face.

“Shan is one tough-as-nails guy.”

McGrath said the atmosphere in Japan’s famous martial arts arena, the Korakuen Hall, was electric.

“To meet other fighters of that level was incredible,” he said.

“I think Will is the second Westerner to fight Lethwei and he’s already lining up a fight for next year.”

McGrath said he first met Chope around eight years ago at the well-known Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand.

“I was training in Thailand and it was an experience and a half,” he said.

“It really took me to a whole other level.

“Will heard that I was doing some crazy kicks at the gym and sought me out. I had no idea who he was at the time.”

The teacher became the student not long afterwards, with Chope coaching McGrath through his first fight.

“We’ve coached each other over the years and become great mates,” he said.

“Will even came to my gym for a few months earlier this year and ran some classes.

“The kids absolutely loved him.”

McGrath said Chope would return to the MMA scene next month in Seoul, Korea.

“I’m hoping to coach him there as well,” he said.

“To have him represent our gym on the global martial arts stage is an honour and the least I could do is coach him.”

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Vivian paves the way

ALBANY-bred cricketer Vivian Paver may have only played one game in the local A-grade competition, but the all-rounder is making his mark on the other side of the world with a batting average approaching that of the game’s greatest wielder of willow.

The former Goode Beach resident now revolves life around cricket seasons, with the year split between England and Perth.

With two matches left to play for Hutton Cricket Club in the Essex Cricket League season, his batting average sits at 99.92 runs, just 0.02 runs shy of the mark left by the great Don Bradman when he hung up the Baggy Green.

Paver has also been frugal with the ball this season, with a bowling average of 16.15 runs for each of his 39 wickets.

While pleased with his club-level success, the 28-year-old said he would be delighted to earn a place on a county team.

“Club cricket, which is where I’m playing now, is the highest level of amateur cricket available,” he said.

“Theoretically I could get selected for county, which is the equivalent of state cricket in Australia.

“Professional opportunities are difficult to come by but if I got the chance I would be thrilled.”

Despite having a masters degree in international relations to his name, the calling to pursue a living from cricket, as a player or coach, rings a little louder.

“I don’t have much desire to use my degree in a professional capacity, but it has helped shape my worldview,” he said.

“I’m very interested in my coaching development and seeing what opportunities that presents.

“I’ve already worked with a number of elite cricketers and I enjoy helping others maximise their potential.”

Paver said his love of the bat and ball started early on in the piece when living in Goode Beach.

“I’ve enjoyed cricket since I could walk and played with Dad in the backyard,” he said.

“I started off playing Super 8s in Albany and played Under 13s for Little Grove before I moved to Perth for high school.

“Cricket is full of challenges to one’s character. It tests me every day in different ways, and that is a daily battle that gives me purpose and a chance to improve.

“Batting specifically serves me as a kind of therapy, exercise, creative outlet and discipline all in one.”

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Sharing is caring at bridge

AMONG the slightly competitive players at Albany Bridge Club, it seems sharing is still caring – for the winners at least.

Carole Munro and Jane Ellen have both been playing bridge for around 30 years but have only teamed up as a pair in the past few years.

When they took out the recent Geraldine Sutherland Memorial competition, they had a simple solution as to what to do with the perpetual trophy.

The prized shield and clock would spend six months with each player before Munro and Ellen set out to defend their title next year.

Munro said the pair generally weren’t highly competitive players in comparison to other teams within the club.

“We’ve played together for a couple of years and we enjoy our game,” she said.

“It’s not the be-all and end-all to win a competition, but it’s definitely nice for a change.”

Munro said the club was the perfect way for people to make friends when moving to a new town, and with 104 members in the Albany Bridge Club, there certainly isn’t a shortage of new faces.

“When I moved to Albany in 1988, I was driving past the old clubhouse on Bolt Terrace and went in and introduced myself,” she said.

Ellen said she started playing bridge as a young mum when she wanted something to do to keep her brain working.

Both Munro and Ellen agreed that while bridge was a difficult game to master it was highly enjoyable to play.

“It’s a very complex game but very addictive,” Munro said.

“It stimulates your brain. It’s a card game with an edge.”

Munro said the Albany Bridge Club was calling for some young blood to join its ranks.

“We have a good mix of ladies and men but it’s definitely an older demographic,” she said.

“We have a beginners day on Monday s and no matter your level, people are more than welcome to tag along.

“If you can’t find a partner we can help organise one for you too.”

Albany Bridge Club is set to host a fundraiser for Albany Community Hospice on August 4 from 10am at their Mill Street clubhouse.

The entry fee of $25 per person includes morning and afternoon tea with all proceeds being donated to the Albany Community Hospice.

For more information or to purchase a ticket, contact Pam Minchin on 0419 193 006.

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