Pos­i­tive spin on up­grade


The Advocate (Perth) - - FRONT PAGE - Sarah Brookes

CY­CLING clubs are call­ing for VenuesWest to use its multi-mil­lion dol­lar up­grade to the Mid­vale SpeedDome as pro­mo­tional lever­age to at­tract more par­tic­i­pants to the sport.

The SpeedDome re­opened to the pub­lic last week after the in­stal­la­tion of a new roof and track at a cost of $2.5 mil­lion.

VenuesWest chief ex­ec­u­tive David Ether­ton said de­liv­er­ing a world-class venue to West Aus­tralian-based ath­letes was a sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment.

“Grass­roots, community cy­cling groups and WA In­sti­tute of Sport cy­clists now have the ca­pa­bil­ity to train and com­pete on one of the best tracks in the coun­try,” he said.

“The new Siberian Pine track was cus­tom-made and shipped from Ger­many, ac­com­pa­nied with a team of spe­cial­ist fit­ters.”

X-Speed Aus­tralia Cy­cle Club pres­i­dent Amanda O’Con­nor said the re­fur­bish­ment was an op­por­tu­nity for VenuesWest to im­ple­ment a larger, tar­geted ap­proach to pro­mote the sport and the venue.

“The ini­tial ex­cite­ment of the new boards will have a life span, so it’s im­por­tant to use this as pro­mo­tional lever­age to in­crease foot traf­fic through the venue across mul­ti­ple de­mo­graph­ics, from ju­niors to elite cy­clists to mas­ters ath­letes,” she said.

Ms O’Con­nor said af­ford­able ac­cess for school groups needed to be ex­plored.

“The fo­cus has to be on what will sup­port the venue and sport into the fu­ture and that is ju­nior par­tic­i­pa­tion,” she said.

“Schools are a prime user group that could con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to the fu­ture pa­tron­age of the sport and the venue.

“With­out ju­niors sup­port­ing this venue, the sport won’t have longevity.”

Ms O’Con­nor said ses­sion fees dur­ing school hours were cost-pro­hib­i­tive for school groups.

“When you add the ses­sion fees for out-of-stan­dard-use hours dur­ing the school day, venue of­fi­cer wages and bikes, coaches and equip­ment hire fees, you are left with ei­ther pass­ing on a high cost to the con­sumer or tak­ing a loss in the hope of gain­ing num­bers,” she said.

JES­SICA NICO is a reporter by day and a vol­un­teer bas­ket­ball coach by night. As she ex­plains, sports vol­un­teers aren’t re­ally in it for the ac­co­lades, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recog­nise them.

I AM often shot a look of in­credulity when I tell peo­ple I vol­un­teer as a ju­nior bas­ket­ball coach.

Most times that shock deep­ens when I tell them I coach not one but two teams, jug­gling al­most 20 young teenage boys be­tween them.

Tak­ing up coach­ing is the best de­ci­sion I have made.

It can be stress­ful, play­ers can be ir­ri­tat­ing in typ­i­cal teenage fash­ion, but the ben­e­fits far out­weigh the few little irks.

I have seen the boys grow in more than just bas­ket­ball skill and abil­ity; they have be­come more con­fi­dent, more re­spect­ful and more aware of how their ac­tions im­pact oth­ers.

They are friend­lier, bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tors, bet­ter lead­ers, bet­ter fol­low­ers, bet­ter team play­ers – all traits that will serve them well as they start to make their way in the world.

For my­self, there are the ben­e­fits to men­tal health, a greater sense of community and the feel­ing of be­ing part of some­thing, of know­ing you are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, how­ever small, in the life of a young per­son. I see first-hand the strug­gles my club and oth­ers like it have in en­tic­ing par­ents or the wider community to vol­un­teer an hour or two a week, but grass­roots sport­ing clubs can only sur­vive through the gen­eros­ity of their vol­un­teers and the pos­i­tives of be­ing in­volved, of mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, are well worth a few hours a week.

If in 10 or 20 years “my boys” don’t re­mem­ber any­thing that hap­pened on the court, but re­mem­ber they had a coach that they re­spected and had fun with, then it will all have been worth it.

That’s why I coach.

Ask the coach of any lo­cal team and I truly hope their an­swer and joy would be some­thing sim­i­lar to mine.

Do you know a coach or another pas­sion­ate vol­un­teer who has served their sport well? We are on the hunt for Lo­cal Sports Stars and the peo­ple who make it hap­pen. Nom­i­na­tions close this month, so head to www.lo­cal­sportsstars.com.au to rec­om­mend your out­stand­ing coach or vol­un­teer.

Pic­ture: Ian Protheroe

Amanda O’Con­nor says with­out ju­niors sup­port­ing the newly re­fur­bished SpeedDome, the sport won’t have longevity.

Jes­sica Nico.

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