Rookie um­pire’s goal of big stage

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - JACK PAYNTER JAMES KITTO

A RE­GIONAL foot­ball club says it won’t be able to sur­vive into the com­ing sea­son if it doesn’t get ac­cess to wa­ter soon.

Dodges Ferry Foot­ball Club has is­sued a plea for help to ir­ri­gate its ground fol­low­ing months of dry weather and lim­ited sup­ply of wa­ter.

Large patches of Shark Park on Old Forcett Rd have with­ered to brown, dead grass, with some sec­tions re­duced to just dirt.

The Sharks were told by Sorell Coun­cil no more funds had been bud­geted to al­low it to wa­ter the ground.

Club pres­i­dent David Bel­lars said the ground was in the worst con­di­tion he had seen, and a so­lu­tion was needed des­per­ately.

He is meet­ing Prosser MLC Jane Howlett to- mor­row. Com­mit­tee mem­ber in charge of the ground, Phil Ham­mer, said its cur­rent con­di­tion was “dis­as­trous”.

“It’s as dry as we’ve ever seen it,” he said.

“If we aren’t able to use the ground and fa­cil­i­ties, I dare say the club’s go­ing to shut the door, there’s no other al­ter­na­tive.”

He said the club needed about $25,000 as a short­term so­lu­tion to wa­ter the ground for the next three months to get it ready to play on. He said the com­mu­nity thrived on the foot­ball club and home games were watched by some of the largest crowds in the league.

Play­ers started pre­sea­son train­ing last Thurs­day but had to be “se­lec­tive” in the ar­eas of the ground they used and have been forced to find an al­ter­na­tive venue for Tues­day nights.

“We don’t raise enough money through the bar if the play­ers aren’t here,” Mr Ham­mer said.

There is no mains wa­ter in Dodges Ferry and the oval de­pends on tanks at the pri­mary school next door.

Wa­ter to fill the school tanks has pre­vi­ously been sourced from a bore, which is now run­ning dry and is too salty to grow grass.

The coun­cil then bought truck­loads of wa­ter to ser­vice the oval, but that has proved too ex­pen­sive to main­tain. With school re­turn­ing in a fort­night and need­ing the lim­ited wa­ter sup­ply for crit­i­cal san­i­tary and emer­gency sys­tems, it has left the club with­out a re­li­able wa­ter source.

Mr Ham­mer said the only way the ground would re­cover was with four or five days wa­ter­ing a week.

He said he had made more than 50 phone calls try­ing to find a so­lu­tion.

Sorell Mayor Kerry Vin­cent said the coun­cil was work­ing on op­tions to help, but all of those were ex­tremely ex­pen­sive and more than what the coun­cil could af­ford.

Ms Howlett said the club was an im­por­tant part of the com­mu­nity and she would work with it and the coun­cil to try to find a so­lu­tion. It’s un­der­stood a num­ber

ri­val clubs com­plained of about hav­ing to play at Dodges Ferry last sea­son be­cause of the ground’s con­di­tion.

South­ern Foot­ball League pres­i­dent Madeleine Ogilvie said the SFL sup­ported the club in its ur­gent call for help to get the oval back to play­ing stan­dard.

“We will help by en­gag­ing in ne­go­ti­a­tions with gov­ern­ment and coun­cil to help fa­cil­i­tate a pos­i­tive out­come,” she said.

Since Dodges Ferry was es­tab­lished 40 years ago it has won seven se­nior and six re­serves pre­mier­ships.

The club fields four ju­nior sides from un­der-8 to un­der-14 and is hop­ing to reestab­lish the Colts un­der-18 side this sea­son.

Women’s club South East Suns are also sched­uled to host two home games at the ground this year. Cricket is also played there. THERE’S no stump­ing Soniya Sharma’s pas­sion for cricket.

The only fe­male um­pire in Tas­ma­nia, Mrs Sharma has had a love for cricket ever since watch­ing the game from a young age in her home coun­try of In­dia, but she felt her op­por­tu­ni­ties to get in­volved were lim­ited.

Since mov­ing to Aus­tralia in 2015, she be­gan search­ing for ways to con­nect with Tas­ma­nia’s cricket com­mu­nity, af­ter her hus­band Vikrant be­gan play­ing with Glenorchy Cricket Club.

Fol­low­ing a brief stint scor­ing matches in the Hur­ri­canes Cham­pi­ons League, Mrs Sharma was en­cour­aged to try her hand at um­pir­ing by friends, and now she has dreams of tak­ing her new-found pas­sion to the big­gest stage of all.

“I want my fam­ily back home in In­dia to one day be able to see me on tele­vi­sion um­pir­ing in­ter­na­tional matches,” she said.

“I feel very good be­ing the only fe­male do­ing it and I see it as an op­por­tu­nity. I have the sup­port from fam­ily and I know I can do it.”

Mrs Sharma forms part of Cricket Tas­ma­nia’s grow­ing rate of fe­males with an in­ter­est in cricket.

Last year there was a 26 per cent in­crease in women par­tic­i­pat­ing in cricket on 2017, with 35 per cent of the al­most 48,000 Tasmanians in­volved in cricket be­ing fe­male.

Cricket Tas­ma­nia match of­fi­cials man­ager Gerry O’Dea said Cricket Tas­ma­nia was af­ter more fe­male um­pires.

“Soniya is … the only fe­male we have um­pir­ing,” he said.

“Cricket Tas has been proac­tive in ad­ver­tis­ing for new fe­male um­pires but it is a chal­leng­ing task.”

A cricket-play­ing back­ground is not nec­es­sary to be­come an um­pire.

If we aren’t able to use the ground and fa­cil­i­ties, I dare say the club’s go­ing to shut the door. PHIL HAM­MER, DODGES FERRY FOOT­BALL CLUB

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