Association 40 years old and still going strong

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Strength in numbers is what has helped Brisbane’s Downey Park Netball Association thrive and prosper over four decades.

This year Downey Park is celebrating its 40th anniversary, an association that is made up of 15 clubs that boast a whopping 3300 registered players in 337 teams.

The Gap Netball Club has 53 teams playing in every division, making it the biggest club in Queensland.

To celebrate National Volunteers Week – which runs until Friday – Netball Australia is honoring the efforts of those around the country who contribute hours of their personal time to ensure Australians can participate in netball.

The success of the association, located in Brisbane’s northern suburbs, has been built on the back of the efforts of thousands of volunteers over the past four decades in various roles as administrators, umpires, coaches and officials.

Current president Diana Moore first got involved with the association in the early 1980s when her daughter Kirsten began playing as an eight-year-old; Kristen later went onto represent Queensland’s state side and also played for Australia at 21/U level.

Moore started as a team manager, has filled executive roles at both club and association level and was also the association’s publicity manager.

She took over as association president in 2009 and said it’s been people like Liz White, a former Australian player and state coach, who have ensured the association’s success.

“Everyone that’s put in over time has been important,” Moore said. “Our current committee has got a really broad range of people involved, more so than previously. It’s a committee that has brought a range of skills to the association.

“It does take a fair bit of time and energy but you get satisfaction out of seeing all these women and girls out playing netball and enjoying the sport, which is nice.

“We have a broad range of players. There are certainly some clubs that do have parents and their children playing and there’s a good involvement from parents with the clubs.”

Floods that swept through Brisbane in 2009 – twice – and 2011 had a significant impact on the venue, but Moore said everyone involved with the association who was asked to help to clean up the courts and buildings did to ensure there was minimal disruption to the weekly netball.

“In 2009 we only missed the one Saturday. We had a couple of courts that needed to be resurfaced,” Moore said.

“We were meant to be running our club carnival the Sunday after the floods hit but we did eventually run it some weeks late.”

Last year the association’s 24 grass courts were replaced by the Brisbane City Council which Moore said presented another major challenge to ensure all matches were played without too much disruption.

“We didn’t play on our grass courts at all last year. We squashed everyone onto all our hard courts (played) 10-minute quarters, started games earlier and finished later,” she said.

IMG_1745Earlier this month the club held a special celebration for its 40th anniversary attended by Australian Diamonds captain Laura Geitz and Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk.

Last year Moore was nominated by Downey Park for the Netball Queensland Volunteer of the Year award and was presented with a merit certificate. Moore said she enjoys putting the hours into association.

“There are a couple of objectives that I still have to achieve. It looks like we’re going to build a decent clubhouse and that’s been a goal of mine since I took over as president,” she said.

Next year Sydney will host the Netball World Cup, the first time it’s been played in Australia in more than 20 years. If you are interested in volunteering for a role, visit www.wnc2015.com.au to register your details.