Cricket merger appeal

FEARS that junior cricket in Albany could be discontinued have been all but laid to rest with a proposed merger of the sport’s junior and senior representative bodies likely to go ahead.

Committee members from the Albany Junior Cricket Association (AJCA) and the Albany Cricket Association (ACA) are set to convene for a special resolution meeting on July 22 to discuss the prospect of amalgamating into one organisation.

The future of the junior sport was thrown into doubt in mid June after the AJCA failed to find volunteers to replace its outgoing executive committee (‘Cricket future in doubt’, 20 June).

Sport and Recreation Consultant Kim Buttfield, who has been employed by the Western Australia Cricket Association to conduct a review of the sport in the Great Southern, said the talk of a merger came at a fortunate time.

“The AJCA had been struggling to find volunteers … and the senior association to a lesser degree was also struggling just finding people to step up into those governance roles,” she said.

“It’s just taken a while for everyone to come together to realise this is actually a great opportunity to bring the two groups together.”

Ms Buttfield said she was “very certain” the merger would proceed, adding the two bodies would work to finalise it before the start of the next season of junior cricket in September or October.

“The WACA is very keen to support them. They are going to be providing some financial support as well as some governance guidance,” she said.

“Hopefully everything will flow fairly smoothly.”

ACA President Terry Eaton said the upcoming discussions would provide clarity about the pathways available to local junior and senior players.

“At the moment people don’t know whether they should be in junior or in senior or how to go about getting from one to the other,” Mr Eaton said.

“That’s why we need a powerful board to direct cricket overall and go from there. I think at the end what we need is a good outcome for cricket.”

He added that while decisions about the exact structure of a new organisation were “still in the melting pot,” he expected it to consist of a single executive with a couple of portfolios for junior cricket.

“I think where they’re heading is towards a combined executive that would oversee the organisation and then sitting underneath that would be two operational arms, one for the juniors and one for the seniors,” Ms Buttfield said.

“At the end of it everyone’s really wanting the same thing, to grow cricket and to continue to support a great game that’s pretty important in our community.”

Outgoing AJCA President Jackie Boyce was contacted for comment.

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Hayden earns state honour

WHEN Albany student Hayden Mills first learned he had been selected for the state cross-country team late last month, he thought he was getting in trouble.

On a day some time after the 14-year-old placed first representing Bethel Christian School at an interschool cross-country run, his mother Linda Mills called him over to the computer.

“She asked me to read something out to Dad in an email that she got and I was thinking straight away it was from the teachers saying I was in trouble,” Hayden said.

“Then I read it out and it said they had a spot for me in the state team.

“Dad was like good job and everything and they’ve really supported me through the whole thing.”

Instead of receiving a grounding, Hayden will be jetting to Wollongong in New South Wales in late August to compete at the School Sports 2019 Interstate Cross Country competition.

The four-day event will see young people between the ages of 10 and 19 on both male and female state teams from around the country race it out on long distance trails for the top honours.

“It’s exciting but I’m a bit nervous at the same time,” Hayden told the Weekender during a break from hockey training last Thursday.

“I’ve always dreamed of getting into the state side and then representing Western Australia. I want to see where that takes me and then go from there.”

Hayden has been getting up at 5:30am every Tuesday to train at an oval near North Road in preparation for the competition.

The year nine student said he challenged himself with long distance laps, interval training and hill training during his hour-and-a- half morning workouts.

He said he also played hockey with five different teams, including the 9/10s, under 18s, Men’s B, Men’s A in Mount Barker, and an Albany team that recently competed in Bunbury.

“Hockey and cross country complement each other a lot. Being able to be really fit and run gives you the upper hand like crazy, you get a crazy advantage,” he said.

“I don’t know what it is but I just like to run, it’s almost like when I’m running I feel like it’s made for me.”

Sport has always played an important role in the Mills household.

Hayden’s father coaches hockey during the week, while his six sisters and younger brother all play either netball, basketball or hockey.

Great Southern Grammar students Jana Kriek, Oliver Camins and Charlie Hick were also selected for the WA Cross Country team.

They will join Hayden on the track when the interstate competition kicks off on August 22.

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Tennis assessment

TENNIS venues throughout the lower Great Southern last week became the first regional facilities to be audited as part of a statewide assessment conducted by Tennis West.

Representatives from the state’s governing tennis body visited a total of 12 venues in Albany, Tingledale, Napier and elsewhere in the region on Monday and Tuesday, before moving onto another 14 facilities in the Mid West.

Tennis West Places to Play Manager Graeme Hall said the aim was to gather information about the condition of all available tennis facilities and that the audits in Western Australia were being conducted alongside similar assessments across the country.

“The idea is that we will be able to produce, in the long term, what we call a State of Play report and we can do that by local authority or by region or even by club,” he explained.

“At this stage we’re just putting it all together … so we’ll be able to draw on this data for a whole range of information going forward.”

Mr Hall joined Tennis Australia’s Head of Places Steve Marquis in Albany early last week to speak at a forum about the future of tennis in the state and the Great Southern.

During his presentation, Mr Marquis outlined the “three elements” of the audit process.

He said the audits would assess the “hard, physical infrastructure” of each venue, the participation records and the operational and managerial aspects underpinning the facilities.

“It’s a very similar process to what football and cricket have done over the last couple of years as well,” Mr Hall said.

“We really received some positive feedback from the clubs we visited and the clubs are really happy to assist and provide that information.

“It’s been a really positive engagement.”

According to research conducted by Tennis West and referenced at last week’s forum, metropolitan clubs differ somewhat from regional clubs in the challenges they face.

While metropolitan clubs have cited concerns about the costs of maintaining courts, particularly grass courts, regional clubs have had to deal with transient communities and related population decline.

“I’ve been to clubs today that had 80 members but are down to four or five,” Mr Hall told the audience of around 70 attendants.

He said metro clubs also struggled to attract and retain numbers because “people are changing the way they use their disposable dollar and free time”.

Mr Marquis added that when it came to participation levels, there was a distinction to be made between tennis club member numbers and visitor numbers.

While membership numbers may be declining, more and more people are looking to play casually.

The Tennis West audit comes as the tennis clubs and tennis community in Albany debate the possibility of building a regional venue for the sport.

At the same forum, Mayor Dennis Wellington told the crowd that the venue would not be built without club and community support (‘Tennis hub needs support,’ 20 June).

City of Albany Acting Executive Director of Community Services Nathan Watson said the audit “will add value to the current feasibility study [for the venue] and any future business case developments”.

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Hunt for coach

ALBANY Swim Club President Lia Shavian is on the hunt for a new Head Coach to join the team.

The club has had a number of successful jaunts interstate recently with a few medals, personal bests and records set at the South Australia Long Course Championships, Country Pennants competition in Karratha, the Great Southern Region Meet, National Long Course Championships and the Junior Long Course State Championships.

Shavian said previous Head Coach Marshall McAleese had made an outstanding contribution to the swimming community over the past nine years.

“As Head Coach, Marshall has shaped our team culture to emphasise the key ingredients of fun, club spirit and outstanding performance,” she said.

“He has a unique ability to engage with all swimmers, meeting them at their level, to inspire them to achieve their personal best.

“In his time, Marshall has consistently developed a number of swimmers every season to achieve exceptional results both at state and national level competition.”

Shavian said she would be looking for a highly capable and motivated leader to join the team.

“They would need to build and maintain a positive team environment for our club that emphasises outstanding sportsmanship, mutual respect for others, and above all, enjoyment,” she said.

The three-year contract would have the successful applicant responsible for the planning and management of swimming programs across all squads as well as promote athlete welfare, wellbeing and engagement.

Shavian said applications closed on June 23 and registrations for the upcoming Albany Short Course Carnival are now open and available at www.albanyswimming.org.au

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Eagles stars swoop in

CROWDS of footy fans flooded Sounness Park in Mount Barker last week when a duo of West Coast Eagles premiership players visited the town for a fundraising catch up.

Dom Sheed and retired star Mark Lecras shared advice and stories from the field with fans and players as part of the three-hour event, which raised more than $1700 for the Mount Barker Bulls Football Club.

Club President Dean Wallinger said it was a pretty big deal for a town like Mount Barker to host players of such quality.

“I think it’s great, you don’t normally get that here,” he said.

“They relived the grand final and how it unfolded, which was really interesting, and they shared a little bit about themselves and how they made it through their footy careers.”

Many West Coast supporters herald Sheed as a hero of the 2018 AFL grand final.

The popular midfielder kicked the winning goal at the September clash that saw the Eagles defeat Collingwood by five points.

Mr Wallinger said Sheed and Lecras took the time to meet local junior players before the official event commenced at 7pm.

“Dom and Mark spoke to the 14s, 16s and colts about what they had to do to get where they did,” he recalled.

“The young ones also brought footballs and jumpers and stuff down and the boys were happy to sign that for them after they had a chat.”

West Coast player Daniel Venables was also expected to attend the June 11 event but had to cancel due to an injury.

The club will host football commentator Sam Newman next month.

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Cricket future in doubt

JUNIOR cricket in Albany could soon come to an end if replacements for outgoing Albany Junior Cricket Association committee members are not found soon.

None of the attendants at the AJCA annual general meeting early last week put up their hands to fill the roles of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer for the next season.

Current President Jackie Boyce said without a committee to coordinate things like fundraisers and competitions, the sport was unlikely to continue.

“If the people want to play cricket and there’s no opportunity for them, then they’ll just play another sport or they won’t get to fulfil that desire,” she said.

“That has a flow-on effect. If the kids aren’t playing junior cricket then they’re not going to grow up to play senior cricket.”

Ms Boyce served as the AJCA’s secretary for two years before taking on the top spot.

She said like herself, most of the committee were leaving due to “personal reasons”.

“For me, three years on the executive is enough and it’s time for new ideas and new people to get involved,” she explained.

“People are not staying in those executive positions as long, maybe because there is a lot more frameworks that you have to fit in with.

“There’s a lot more paperwork and liability which also makes it more time consuming and people just don’t have as much time.”

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington began his own cricket career as a junior and said it was “a shame” the AJCA was struggling.

“There’s a lot of enjoyment in sport. It’s a big part of our lives,” he said.

“Unfortunately it’s a fact of life these days that you’ve got to have volunteers to run these things.”

He said volunteer organisations often experienced “revolving situations” where parent committee members whose children outgrew a junior sport left as they did.

“I think the solution is basically with the parents of the children that are playing at the time,” he said.

The AJCA’s conundrum comes as the State Government moves to expand cricket in the Great Southern.

Two forums exploring the future direction of junior and senior cricket in the region are set to run in Albany and Katanning at the end of the month.

They will be coordinated by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries (DLGSC) alongside the Western Australian Cricket Association and WA Country Cricket.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Mick Murray said the events would provide a “terrific resource” for the AJCA and “clearly comes at a very timely point for the club as it looks to attract new members”.

“I’d encourage anyone who is interested in junior cricket to step up and nominate for one of the vacant AJCA committee positions,” he said.

“Volunteering in such grassroots sports groups can be a rewarding experience, both for the volunteers and the junior players.”

Mr Murray noted the DLGSC’s online resource Every Club Hub could provide guidance on all things related to running local sports clubs.

“Personally, I believe sport is an important, character-building tool for children where they can gain an understanding of the concept of rules and boundaries early on in life,” he said.

The AJCA will host an extraordinary meeting at the cricket pavilion at 6pm on Monday July 1, with the hope of finding the replacements.

The findings from the Albany and Katanning forums are expected to be available for review around the middle of next month.

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Biking event approved

DENMARK time trial mountain biking event Monkey Rock Speed Run was unanimously approved for a second year at a Shire of Denmark council meeting earlier this week.

Last year’s event, hosted by the Denmark Mountain Bike Club and held at Mount Hallowell, was heralded a triumph with 55 competitors ripping down the track.

Club President Nathan Devenport spoke to councillors during public question time and said the event was a huge success.

“There was heaps of support from the surrounding community,” he said.

“Only one quarter of competitors were actually from Denmark with the rest coming from Albany and beyond.

“With how well it went, please just let us shred.”

Last year’s male adult category winners went to Bobby Cooper with a time of 1:12.32, Hayden Kinnear in second at 1:14.84 and Devenport in third at 1:17.56.

For the female adult riders, Dinah Roecker came in first at 1:32.06, Ingrid Fuhrmann in second at 1:36.66, and Corinne Stoner in third at 1:42.68.

Mr Devenport also received praise from councillors for adopting a plastic-free policy for the event prior to the Shire adopting their own Sustainable Events Policy in August last year.

He said as a club they had always made sure that every event since they started in 2017 was as plastic free as possible.

“We’re very conscious of our impact,” Mr Devenport said.

“It’s always been a major component of our club and the event to protect the environment.”

Councillor Kingsley Gibson said it was a real buzz to watch riders come down the trail.

“I’d be way too scared to go down Monkey Rock,” he joked.

“I’m glad it [the event] didn’t hurt the environment and I’m excited to watch the next one.”

Councillors voted unanimously to allow the Denmark Mountain Bike Club to hold their second Monkey Rock Speed Run on August 4.

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Program success

A FREE roller-skating and mental wellbeing program for teenage girls will likely continue into next year after the Albany group behind it became one of only two around the world selected to receive a grant worth thousands.

Funding for the Albany Roller Derby League’s (ARDL) Skate like a Girl program, which combines weekly skating sessions with mental health literacy lessons coordinated by headspace, was set to run out at the end of 2019.

ARDL President Natalie Jarvis said United States skating organisation Girls on Track Foundation (GOTF) selected the group to receive the grant because of the work it had already been doing.

“Last year, we saw over 80 girls participate in Skate like a Girl and this year our first two terms have been more than full,” she said.

“We do roller skating and roller hockey and we provide an overall safe space where the girls can fail and fall and learn that mental resilience that comes through a physical sport like roller derby.

“The girls generally come for one term or more and in a few weeks they’re jumping things, skating backwards, learning how to skate fast.

“The Girls on Track Foundation is hopefully going to keep that alive.”

A $13,000 grant provided by Healthway has allowed Skate like a Girl to operate at no cost for participants for the past two years.

According to Ms Jarvis, this meant the program brought together girls from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds.

“We’ve had young people from all different walks of life, all different schools, all different experiences … that’s a real testament to the space being inclusive and diverse and welcoming for all,” she said.

GOTF President Carla Smith said many families could not afford the $200 or more it cost to buy the skates, pads and helmets necessary to participate in roller-skating safely.

She said of the more than 40 applications for funding the organisation received, ARDL was one of the strongest and most likely to have a wide impact.

“Their successful Skate like a Girl program and their aspirations to grow it and reach lower income families fit with our organisation’s goals of expanding awareness of and access to roller derby for teenage girls,” she said.

“Participation in roller derby helps girls develop confidence, leadership and organisational skills with lifelong benefits for skaters and their communities.”

Ms Jarvis said she hoped the League would receive around $15,000 to cover operational costs in 2020.

The GOTF grant will be raised through a crowd- funding campaign and anyone interested in donating can visit www.girlsontrackfoundation.org.

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Royals leap to victory

ROYALS cemented their position as kings of the pack last Friday night after winning their Great Southern Football League derby match against Albany by 30 points.

For the first half of the match Royals were able to keep Sharks at bay with a comfortable 12-point lead.

Royals dropped the ball in the third quarter with Sharks kicking a blitzkrieg of points to cement a short-lived lead of seven points.

By the final siren Royals cemented their win 12.13 (85) to Sharks’ 8.7 (55).

Top kickers for Royals went to Hamish McMorran with three goals and Tyreice Brown with two goals with Sharks’ Taj Williams (3), Robert Lee (3) and Kieran Gowdie (2) scoring the highest kickers for the match.

Saturday’s match between Railways and Mount Barker had the Bulls running for the hills after a 65-point defeat.

Bulls’ John Lee (2), Jesse Wynne (2) and Dionne Woods put up an admirable fight but Rail- ways’ consistent goals gave them their sixth win for the season, 17.5 (107) to 5.12 (42).

Sunday’s match between Denmark-Walpole and North Albany was close with the Magpies coming out on top 12.9 (81) to 10.16 (76).

This weekend’s fixtures have Royals playing Railways on Saturday at Centennial Oval and Mount Barker playing Denmark Walpole at Sounness Park.

On Sunday, North Albany will play Albany at Collingwood Park.

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Albany scores hockey nationals

HOCKEY players from across the nation will converge on Albany later next year when the town hosts the Australian Country Hockey Championships for the first time in its history.

The event will see the best players from regional areas of every state compete at multiple matches over an entire week and will coincide with the completed resurfacing of the Lower Great
Southern Hockey Association’s (LGSHA) hockey pitch.

LGSHA President Sam Brown said Albany was the perfect location for such a major tournament, especially with the new pitch.

“Albany is the biggest place down here for hockey,” he said.

“The fact we’re getting a new turf installed for next season, that’s probably one of the major reasons why we got to host the event. It will be of international standard and be great.

“In addition to the facility, I think it’s everything Albany has to offer in terms of a tourist destination … it’s the whole package.”

Albany Mayor Dennis Wellington said the new turf would be jointly funded by the City and the Federal Government.

“Hockey in Albany attracts an incredible number of participants and some of our players, like Kathryn Slattery, have gone on to represent Australia,” he said.

“[The new turf] will provide a state-of-the-art facility for hockey in our region that will continue to support player development.”

The first Championships were held in 1982 as a men’s only competition.

Hockey Australia Country Convenor Michael Nelson said local players would benefit when Albany hosted next year’s round of the tournament.

“It is an exciting opportunity for the association to highlight our sport in the region,” he said.

“The Championships will provide locals with an opportunity to witness national hockey on their local turf and provide administrators and aspiring players a first-hand experience of such a standard.”

The Albany tournament will run next year from August 8 to 15.

This year’s Championships are set to take place in Shepparton, Victoria.

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