FIRED up after the success of local athlete Eleanor Patterson at the Commonwealth Games, South Gippsland Shire Councillors have voted for an investigation into the feasibility of a high jump training area in this shire.
The motion from Cr Don Hill, seconded by Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks, received near unanimous support at last Wednesday’s council meeting.
Only the mayor, Cr Jim Fawcett, voted against the motion, saying “Our budget can’t afford it.”
Cr Fawcett said that while he understood the sentiment behind the motion, to support it would raise false hopes in the community, as it would be unlikely that funding for such a specialised sports facility could be found. “We can’t be everything to everybody,” he pointed out.
“We often spend money [for the benefit of] only a small number of people,” retorted Cr Hill. He said he had been embarrassed to hear that Eleanor, who won a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, had to regularly travel for an hour to a suitable facility outside the shire to train for high jump. “It is my belief that the South Gippsland Shire should endeavour to have such a facility to support the local athletes and especially those that represent the local community so well as evidenced recently at the Commonwealth Games.”
Fellow councillors spoke enthusiastically about investing in a high jump facility. Crs Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks and Andrew McEwen went further, suggesting that the shire should consider investing in facilities for athletics more broadly, such as long jump, triple jump and pole vaulting. “We should support the incubation of athletes generally,” said Cr McEwen.
After the council meeting, the president of the Foster Pool committee, Ian Lyon, expressed some surprise that Council was considering investing in a sporting facility for such a limited demographic. “Well done to Eleanor!” said Mr Lyon. “It is great that her natural ability and dedicated coaching from local coach David Green produced such a fantastic result. However, I can’t help thinking that it would be nice if a swimmer of this calibre emerged locally. That would presumably improve the chances of survival of our local pools.”