In a dairy farming community in the Goulburn Valley, 304 of the 329 residents are members of the local tennis club. With such a high participation rate and a family-friendly feel, it’s no wonder the club won the Love the Game Community Sporting Club of the Year at the recent Victorian Sport Awards.
Club treasurer Melissa Williams explains their approach.
‘Our message is, “Get out and be active. Enjoy socialising,”’ she says. ‘We all enjoy it and there’s a lot of laughter.’
A major attraction is the club’s ‘Hotshots’ program for children aged three to 14 years keen to learn tennis. Some parents bring their children from nearby Kyabram and Echuca to take part in the six-week program. Run twice a year for a fee of just $20 per program, it’s an affordable way for young people of any ability to play and compete.
‘We have some very enthusiastic pre-teen boys, in particular,’ says Melissa. ‘It’s delivered by volunteers who aren’t professional coaches, but we’re all about providing opportunities for our kids and it’s very popular.’
Up to 70 Hotshots have been fortunate enough to attend the Australian Open, where they have twice provided an on-court demonstration of the program at Rod Laver Arena.
Back in Kyvalley, however, the highlight of the week is Friday night social tennis. The round robin best-of-four-games format gives Hotshots the chance to play not only with, but against, their parents.
With four synthetic courts, the club also runs a midweek ladies’ event year-round and a Saturday competition for both juniors and seniors.
In Kyvalley, sport is all about healthy competition, learning new skills and having fun with your family and community. They’re also the values promoted by the Foundation’s Love the Game Sporting Club Program, which focuses on reducing the exposure of young people to sports betting promotion – loving the game, not the odds.
‘We’re all about sport as a way of getting people together and encouraging them to try their best,’ says Michelle.
Any community sporting club can sign up to the Love the Game program. It's easy and can be done in a couple of minutes online at www.lovethegame.vic.gov.au/join.