Top gong a reward for Strathdale Tigers

STRATHDALE Hockey Club president Nicole Hood believes an increased focus this year on the past and future has helped the Tigers win a prestigious Victorian sports award.

Strathdale was named Victoria's Community Sporting Club of the Year on Wednesday night.

The Tigers received the top honour at the Victorian Government's Community Sports and Recreation Awards at the MCG.

"We're really excited by the award, and it's hard to describe that we're the club of the year," an elated Hood said on Thursday.

"It's a great recognition and reward for the volunteers and members who have all worked hard over the past couple of years."

Hood said the Tigers had this year lifted their focus on both juniors and past players that has helped the club grow its members and participation levels in the sport.

"We've had a focus on a recruitment strategy based on top down, bottom up, which follows an old sales strategy that the more you put in, the more likely you are to retain members," said Hood, who is in her fourth year as Strathdale president.

"We've looked at removing barriers for participation for both junior and senior players.

"We've started a new program this year with our JETS team, which stands for Just Enjoy The Sport.

"We invited past members and hockey players who may not be playing the sport any more to come and participate in JETS, which is purely a social environment.

"They don't have to train, they play when they want to play and they're not committed every weekend.

"That really suits the older players who might like to go away during the season, or their bodies can't hold up to a full season."

Strathdale has also strengthened its junior development this year with its Hookedin2Hockey program.

"With the Hookedin2Hockey program, we're trying to capture the younger kids and add junior players," Hood said.

"Once the juniors have that connection with the club through Hookedin2Hockey, they then come through as members."

Hood also rates Strathdale's Volunteer Involvement Program as another of the key reasons behind its awards success.

"Basically, the program gives reward and recognition to the volunteers we have in our club," Hood said.

"What we've done is throughout a year if you coach, umpire, drive a bus, man the canteen, participate in a fundraising event and things like that, you accrue contribution credits.

"At the end of the year, those contribution credits are offered back on next year's playing or membership fees.

"It's all about if you put into the club, you get recognised with discounts on fees."

Over the past two years Strathdale has doubled its membership from 103 to 206.

Strathdale, which is based at the Garden Gully Hockey Complex, has 12 teams from under-11 to seniors and plays in the Hockey Central Vic competition.

For winning the Community Club of the Year Award, Strathdale receives a trophy and $3000.

Also vying for the honour of Club of the Year was the Axe Creek Cricket Club, which plays in the Emu Valley Cricket Association.

Tyntynder Football-Netball Club was the third finalist.

All award finalists received $1000.

2013 Victorian Community Sport and Recreation Award winners:

Minister's Award - Marcus Wills, Kyneton Tennis Club.

Community Sporting Club of the Year - Strathdale Hockey Club.

Outdoor Active Recreation Initiative Award - Cohuna Neighbourhood House.

Young Volunteer of the Year - Sarah Venning, Swimming Victoria.

Service to Sport and Active Recreation Award - Geoffrey McCraw, Foster Football Club.

Welcoming and Inclusive Award - Wheel Women.

Community Coach, Administrator, Referee or Official of the Year Award - Tim Sutcliffe, Football Integration Development Association.

Innovation in Facility Design Award - Noble Park Aquatic Centre.

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