Ready to have a ball … Sheena Lindholm, Makenzie Gerber, Member for Maranoa David Littleproud and Sports portfolio chair Cr Roz Frohloff
It was a letter from 12-year-old Makenzie Gerber that alerted MP David Littleproud to the netball club’s plight

January 24, 2018

Nanango’s netballers had every reason to jump for joy on Wednesday when they learned the Federal Government will chip in the remaining $200,000 they need to rebuild the club’s netball courts.

The surprise grant – from the $5 billion Indigenous Advancement Strategy – will put an end to five years of fundraising.

The Nanango District Netball Association suffered a devastating blow in 2013 when flooding caused extensive damage to its Brooklands Road netball courts.

Two of the club’s four courts were rendered unusable, and the remaining two were deeply cracked.

What made the situation even more heart-breaking was that just a short time beforehand, the courts had been beautifully refurbished thanks to a $51,000 grant from Nanango’s Heritage Community Branch.

“The problem with the courts is that they are built in an area that floods, and they were built on a base of old bitumen from the early days of the Tarong Power Station,” project coordinator Sheena Lindholm said.

“The base wasn’t flood resistant and the water seeped through it, which caused our courts to crack and buckle.

“We needed to get a permanent fix for the problem.”

The permanent fix the club wanted was to rip up the existing courts and rebuild them on a solid block of concrete, along with a drainage system that would divert any future floods around the courts.

But the problem they faced is that it would cost more than $308,000 to do this.

Until Wednesday, the netball club had secured funding commitments from Heritage Community Branch, the Gambling Community Benefit Fund, the South Burnett Regional Council, Stanwell Corporation and other donors totalling $108,000.

But club members thought they might be facing another decade of fundraising before they could achieve their target.

Last year, 12 year old netballer Makenzie Gerber wrote to Member for Maranoa David Littleproud to alert him to the club’s dilemma and ask if he could do anything to help.

Mr Littleproud inspected the netball courts soon afterwards and promised he’d try to find a solution.

Mr Littleproud, who returned from a trade mission to India in his role as Agriculture Minister early Wednesday morning, travelled directly from Brisbane airport to Nanango to announce that a solution had finally been found.

The funding will come from the Indigenous Advancement Strategy because 60 of the club’s 150 members come from Cherbourg.

The grant was approved by Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion because it would provide significant opportunities for Indigenous women and girls in the region to participate in netball activities.

“This grant will bring high-quality netball infrastructure to the community and contribute to local youth programs,” Mr Littleproud said.

“It will ensure the venue is suitable and safe for kids, as well as ensuring improved school attendance and social cohesion for the region’s young people.

“Sporting clubs are often at the heart of a local community, and the goal is to improve these netball facilities so local women and girls can keep participating in sporting and social activities.

“It’s good for the local community, it’s a great way to keep healthy and it’s great for encouraging kids to stay in school.”

Mr Littleproud said once the courts were ready, the South West Indigenous Network will work with the Nanango District Netball Association to organise netball tournaments for women and girls.

Sheena Lindholm said the netball club’s executive were thrilled at the announcement, and will begin work on the project immediately.

The club will be holding its 2018 Sign On Day at 4:30pm on Friday, February 16 and will begin the new season the following week.

During construction, though, players will use netball courts at Nanango State High School and other local schools.

The new concrete base for the courts is likely to be built by Armstrong Concreting in Nanango, who are a preferred Netball Queensland supplier.

Sheena said she was hopeful the new courts could be finished by Easter and officially opened in May.

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