Farmers help fund sports turf

Jo FulwoodThe West Australian
Hockey Club President and Bruce Rock farmer John Chapman welcomes the community to the new synthetic hockey surface, part-funded by a community cropping program.
Camera IconHockey Club President and Bruce Rock farmer John Chapman welcomes the community to the new synthetic hockey surface, part-funded by a community cropping program.

It has taken them nine years, seven crops and many grey hairs, but a group of dedicated farmers in the small Wheatbelt community of Bruce Rock have contributed an astonishing $270,000 to partly fund new synthetic turf for their local hockey club.

The new surface, unofficially opened recently, has also been funded by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the Shire of Bruce Rock, with the total cost of the project about $650,000.

According to Bruce Rock Hockey Club president John Chapman, who farms in the Shire, the commitment from a small group of farmers who were passionate about the future of the hockey club had been outstanding.

The group secured a 136ha lease before the 2010 season — land that Mr Chapman said was going begging because of a run of dry seasons — and planted the first of seven crops that would fund the new facilities.

He said the entire club had been involved in many fundraisers over the past 10 years, but it had been the cropping program that had provided the lion’s share of the capital.

Mr Chapman said when plans began for the new Bruce Rock recreation centre, plus a range of refurbished and new sporting amenities, back in 2008, the hockey club was also keen to secure an upgrade to its facilities.

But he said the group realised they would have to fund a significant portion of the turf themselves. Not shy of a challenge, the club, which is made up predominantly farmers, did what they knew they knew best.

“Our first crop was in 2010, which was a drought,” Mr Chapman said. “So it was a tough beginning to the project.”

But since that time, and using rotations of barley and canola, the group has raised the money necessary to partly fund the initial facility and provide future funding for further infrastructure, such as lights and shelters.

Mr Chapman said in the early days, the farmers donated input such as seed, fertiliser and chemicals, used their own machinery, and also donated their time.

“In the last few years we have been trying to run it as a bit more of a commercial operation, and the club now funds the inputs to take the pressure off such a small group of farmers,” he said.

In a day of sporting action in the town that also included football and netball, the first games played on the new turf were juniors, women’s A and B divisions, and the men’s division, all against the Kulin-Kondinin Vipers.

Mr Chapman, who unofficially opened the new facilities with Shire president Stephen Strange, welcomed guests and life members to the new facilities, saying the heart of any country town was its sporting facilities.

He thanked the Shire for its support of the project and congratulated them for delivering such an outstanding recreation centre.

“How fitting that our first game is the juniors, they are the future of our club,” Mr Chapman said.

He said it was critical for small communities to invest in quality sporting facilities. “We don’t have access to a huge range of social opportunities like there are in the city, and sport offers us a way to network and connect which each other, which is particularly important in dry seasons and tough times,” he said.

The Bruce Rock Hockey Club cropping project will continue to raise money to fund a replacement surface in decade’s time.

The synthetic hockey turf will be officially opened in 2018.

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