Cove Sports and Community Club

17 June 2014

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 15:33 ): Cove Sports and Community Club, located at Oval Road, Hallett Cove, was established in the early 1980s. It sits on the east side of Lonsdale Road, overlooking the Field River gully to Gulf St Vincent and would be one of the few sporting clubs in the state with a sea view.

During my time as a City of Marion councillor, I built a strong relationship with the club and in particular its manager, Mr Keith Noble – a fellow Scotsman and long-term Hallett Cove resident.  I was pleased to be able to continue this relationship during my candidacy for the state seat of Bright, and in particular to be able to be joined by the Member for Mitchell, himself a candidate at the time.

You don’t have to be at the Cove Sports and Community Club for long to realise that it’s a critical part of the southern community.

The Club sits on the boundary between the electorates of Bright and Mitchell and primarily services Hallett Cove in my electorate and Sheidow Park and Trott Park in the Member for Mitchell’s electorate.

The Club is home to five different sports: Australia Rules Football; soccer (or football as it should be correctly referred to); BMX; netball and cricket.

There is no doubt that the Club is the biggest community hub in the local area. Its average patronage over the course of a week is close to 7,000 people and it is the main sports facility for a community of around 23,000, the combined populations of Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park and Trott Park.

With almost one third of its catchment community accessing the club, its significance cannot be underestimated.

During our many visits to the Club, the Member for Mitchell and I were taken aback by the standard of the facilities at the Club. While the community’s use of the Club is thriving, years of underinvestment in the facility have meant that it has grown tired and outdated. It does not have disability access; in early 2013 one of its light towers suffered a dangerous collapse; storage space is insufficient and changing rooms do not meet the appropriate standards. Yet in the face of these difficulties, the club’s spirit is not daunted and it continues to grow its patronage.

In November 2013, the Member for Mitchell and I were delighted to be able to pledge $500,000 to the Club if a Liberal government was elected – and giving credit where credit is due, we were pleased to note that the government almost matched this promise through the Club’s success in the round of Office for Recreation and Sport grants to be provided to the Club in the new financial year. We hope that the government keeps true to its word and follows through with this funding.

The funds will be a catalyst for a transformation in the club, combining with funds from the City of Marion to trigger an upgrade worth around $1 million and paying for new lighting; changing rooms; additional storage space; disability access and a fantastic new spectator balcony (with an ocean view) which will open up new revenue streams for the club by making the site a more attractive function venue.

Uniquely the Club will also be providing its own financial contribution to the upgrade project. This is in itself a huge success story, just a few years ago the Club was saddled with a crippling debt, but has worked diligently to pay this down and build a surplus. This is all the more impressive given that the Club has committed to remaining ‘family friendly’, avoiding gaming machines and at the same time looking to diversify its income streams so that it does not only need to rely on the sale of alcohol to raise funds.

In late 2013, the Club hosted the successful Cove Fair and it is hoped that the upcoming renovation, including the spectator balcony, will create more funding streams.

I note with interest that this financial turnaround took place under the stewardship of a Scotsman and refer government members to his abilities – they may like to enlist his skills in debt reduction when preparing the state budget.

Cove Sports and Community Club is one of those clubs which is part of the very fabric of the community it serves.

It’s an important meeting place, a place of social engagement and it provides a place for people of all ages to enjoy sport and keep fit.

It is so important to support our sports Clubs, particularly when in 2007/08 ABS statistics show that 25% of Australian children are obese.

It is also a development ground for our young sporting talent. Earlier in the year, the Cove Cobras, the Cove’s AFL club, celebrated their former junior Michael Galley’s debut with Glenelg in the SANFL. Michael’s Dad Chris was one of the pioneers of the Club and Michael’s advancement in the sport was a moment of great pride for all at the Cove.

The Cove Sports and Community Club, like many of our sports clubs, gets little in the way of assistance. It gets no recurrent funding like a library or community centre would, it does not employ full time staff, and its lifeblood is its volunteers. Yet despite struggles with finances and facilities, it continues to survive.

Cove Sports and Community Club is not about bricks and mortar, it is about people. People like Keith Noble, Andy Fry of the soccer (football club); Trevor Wigg of the BMX Club; Tracey Harris and David Gilbert from the Netball Club and Darren Thomas of the Cricket Club.

I know I speak for the Member for Mitchell when I say that we are both incredibly proud to be associated with the Cove Sports and Community Club.

Extracted from Hansard