Pull up stumps: Axe Creek’s battle for funding

NOT HAPPY: All abilities cricketer Jye Yates, along with his Axe Creek Cricket Club teammates, can't train on their shabby practice facilities. Picture: DARREN HOWE

NOT HAPPY: All abilities cricketer Jye Yates, along with his Axe Creek Cricket Club teammates, can't train on their shabby practice facilities. Picture: DARREN HOWE

The region’s only all abilities cricket club, unable to train properly at its shabby practice nets, had its pleas for council funding rejected for three years, with a club official suggesting the city is overlooking all ability sport. 

Axe Creek Cricket Club, which fields two all abilities sides in a Melbourne-based competition, unsuccessfully applied for $45,000 to refurbish its dilapidated practice facilities in the current City of Greater Bendigo draft budget. 

“There’s a lot of trip hazards there...we’ve had a few rolled ankles,” said club secretary James O’Bryen, describing the latest rebuff from council as “disappointing”. 

Cricket Victoria approached the club last year informing it of available infrastructure grants, describing Axe Creek’s case as “very strong”, which would be prioritised. 

However, the grants had to be applied for by local government.

The City of Greater Bendigo application was not forthcoming, according to Mr O’Bryen.

“It’s nothing out of their (council) pocket, all they had to do was submit it, and i don’t think they did,” he said. 

“I noticed Kangaroo Flat Cricket Club will be given funds for new facilities and that’s fantastic, but where’s the balance. 

“You’ve got the elite sport which is being looked after but you’ve got to look after disability sport as well.” 

NO PLAY: The training facilities at Axe Creek Cricket Club are in too poor a condition for all abilities cricketers to practice. Picture: DARREN HOWE

NO PLAY: The training facilities at Axe Creek Cricket Club are in too poor a condition for all abilities cricketers to practice. Picture: DARREN HOWE

All abilities cricket was flourishing at Axe Creek Cricket Club, but the passion and commitment of the club was not matched by its facilities, he said. 

“We had five guys when we started (in 2012), now its more like 35-40.

“This is probably the worst place to do a program like this, but yet we’re the only ones doing it. It’s our mantra of being an all-inclusive club.” 

The club, which boasts three state representative players and a former player recently selected for the national side, is considering moving its program to Mount Alexander Shire given the lack of financial support. 

Axe Creek fields two senior sides in the Emu Valley Cricket Association, but poor facilities have seen the squad numbers dwindle in recent times. 

All abilities player Jye Yates, a promising wicket keeper, said the facilities were “not really good, people could slip up”.

Mr Yates and his teammates are forced to train on the main oval, where the quality of the practice is compromised.

The club has 10 per cent of the $45,000 required to refurbish the nets put aside to contribute to any potential funding arrangement. 

Councillors are expected to formally endorse the budget on Wednesday evening, however no alterations have been made to include the Axe Creek Cricket Club’s practice facilities.

City of Greater Bendigo active and healthy communities manager, Lincoln Fitzgerald, said a redevelopment of the nets was in the city’s forward plan of capital works, which will be assessed for inclusion in future budgets.

“The city is limited in the number of applications it can submit to each category (in Victoria’s Community Sports Infrastructure Fund),” he said.  

“For an application to be successful, the project should be fully designed and costed, with council and community funding contributions confirmed. The Axe Creek cricket nets are not yet ‘shovel ready’ so no external funding has yet been sought.” 

Mr Fitzgerald said council was committed to promoting and supporting the inclusion of all community members in sport and recreation in Greater Bendigo, while also referencing the $576,000 it gave the club to extended and upgrade its pavilion in 2015, which included accessible facilities. 

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