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How Jessie Aced $100,000 Grant

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Audrey Connell and Jessie Hodgson became ANZ Hotshot Community Coaches in order to bring an innovative children's tennis training course to Murgon, and it helped them win a $100,000 grant to fix up Murgon Tennis Club's courts

February 3, 2017

The Murgon Tennis Club will be getting a $100,000 upgrade later this year … and it’s all thanks to a local woman who went to extraordinary lengths to secure a grant for it.

Jessie Hodgson, who owns Shop 84 on Lamb Street, also runs a sideline business in grant writing and has a lifelong interest in tennis.

“I’m really not very good at tennis,” Jessie laughed.

“But all my children play tennis and I think our community deserves to have good courts in Murgon for all our children to play on.”

So when the Murgon Tennis Club approached her to see if she could rustle up some funding to resurface two of the courts and replace the termite-eaten poles supporting the outdoor lighting system, Jessie didn’t hesitate to take on the assignment.

In a former life, she had worked at BIEDO and prepared grant applications for many different organisations over the years.

Jessie said she’d noticed changes in the way Government agencies gave out grants, and thought the process was now more challenging than it used to be.

“I think what separates a successful grant application from an unsuccessful one usually boils down to vision,” Jessie said.

“These days Government agencies want to see what you’ll do if they agree to fund your project, and they want to see broader benefits in the community. So just saying “I want to fix up the tennis courts” isn’t enough.

“But if you can say “I want to fix up the courts so I can bring a great new tennis coaching program for children to our area and get more local kids actively involved in sport … well, that’s a different thing entirely.”

So that’s exactly what she did.

Through her contacts, Jessie got in touch with the ANZ Hotshots program, which has developed an innovative course that teaches tennis to children aged 3-16 in easy, structured lessons.

And in partnership with her friend Audrey Connell – another keen tennis player – the pair travelled to Roma last year to be trained as ANZ Hotshot Community Coaches, a qualification that would allow them to run the program in Murgon and at other tennis clubs in the region.

“We’ve already had interest in this from Tansey,” Jessie said, “and the ANZ Hotshots gear is now in the Murgon Tennis Club’s clubhouse, so we’re looking forward to getting the program going in Murgon, too.”

Once Jessie and Audrey had secured their Hotshots certification, Jessie turned her hand to drafting an application to the State Government’s Get Playing Places and Spaces grant program.

And in November last year, her efforts were rewarded with a $100,000 grant.

Sports Minister Curtis Pitt, who announced the grant, said it would help encourage greater sports participation at the grassroots level.

On Thursday, Murgon Tennis Club president Diane Zelinski told the upgrade work on the courts will now go out to tender.

Because of this she wasn’t certain when the upgrade would be complete, but said she was hopeful it might be finished by September.

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