NSW Government drops the ball on Southern Riverina clubs

By Daniel Hughes

Southern Riverina sporting clubs have been denied access to grants that could help them get through a difficult year.

Berrigan Shire Council said news of a NSW Government Community Sport Recovery Package was initially welcomed, until it learned that clubs with a Victorian affiliation would be ineligible to apply.

The one-off grant had the potential to inject between $1000 and $12,500 in to eligible clubs in the region.

Council director corporate services Matt Hansen said the consequences will be far reaching for local sporting groups.

“The council is aware that the Community Sport Recovery package funding criteria exclude most of our sports clubs, not just in Berrigan Shire but across the entire border region,” Mr Hansen said.

“At a time when residents along the border are being asked to take special measures to keep New South Wales safe from COVID-19, it seems unfair for the government to deliberately exclude sports clubs in our area from this funding. And solely because they compete in a cross-border competition.”

Finley Cricket Club president Matthew Whitty said the Coronavirus pandemic has already had a significant impact on traditional winter sports in the region, and may also threaten the upcoming cricket season.

Mr Whitty said if the sport cannot proceed from mid-October as they are planning, they too will feel the financial burden of the pandemic rules.

And he said being denied access to funding which could lessen the impact when they are subjected to the same rules as other sporting groups in other areas in unfair.

“We are always looking for additional funding to help for maintenance and equipment at the club,” he said.

“It is the same with a lot of clubs in the region, a lot of the footy and netball clubs have just had their competitions cancelled from restrictions.

“We are in an area that has felt the impacts of the restrictions the most, compared to metro areas.

“I think it is unfair for our clubs to be ineligible for state funding.”

The local football netball season was meant to get underway in April, but was hampered by pandemic rules.

All senior sport has since been called off, with local clubs estimating the resulting losses to clubs has been estimated at about $2500 per home game from gate and bar/canteen takings.

A revised Picola League junior competition involving NSW clubs only started on Saturday and will continue over coming weeks, but it unlikely to generate the same takings as when full games could be played.