When the youngest members of the Port Hedland Netball Association walked into their new clubhouse for the first time, “Their eyes nearly popped out of their heads,” according to Tracey Swami, Vice President of the Port Hedland Netball Association.
Netball is one of the most popular sports in Port Hedland, and for decades the 400 member Association only had a tiny tin shed, with no air conditioning, as their clubhouse.
But in the 2018 netball season, thanks to support from the community and several local organisations including BHP, which contributed $1.6 million dollars, players and supporters are enjoying a purpose built clubhouse.
“There’s still a little disbelief that we have this amazing building,” she said.
The new facility included a much-needed upgrade of toilets and change room facilities; improved kiosk area; a match office and multi-purpose function room for meetings, training and development and events; and safer and more secure storage.
“We also now have a scoring and statistics computer system that updates live during games, so volunteers don’t need to do additional work at home, which is a big help in attracting more members,” she said.
“It took a lot of hard work from core people in our Association and a few from BHP but we feel like a very professional organisation now, with great growth opportunities for the future.”
“Having a clubhouse that is the envy of netball associations throughout the region will be a great boost to attracting new members but it has a deeper effect,” according to Tracey Swami.
“The project coincided with the mining downturn and people felt a little flat. So something like this really gave a boost and it was a very proud moment when we opened it. It meant a lot to people.”
Being an isolated community, where most have no immediate family nearby, the town survives on creating a unique and supportive bond between residents.
“I am a massive believer that BHP does so much for our town and this is just another display of what they contribute and how it directly impacts the community,” said Tracey.
Tracey commented that she is very proud to see how far the Netball Association has gone from when she arrived ten years ago, “I never thought we would be operating out of a building like we are today. It not only re-energises existing members and supporters but it will have a massive positive effect on so many kids in the future.”