It’s a pleasure to be here today as a guest of the Sturt Baseball Club and on behalf of the State Government to recognise the official opening of the new safety netting at Norman Reserve.
The Sturt Baseball Club was one of the earliest clubs to be established in South Australia in 1908. Its first home was the South Parklands and the original clubhouse was a modest 8 metre square galvanised iron shed.
In 1961 the Club moved to its present home here at Norman Reserve. Since I was elected as the local Member for Waite, I’ve been aware of the Club’s ongoing challenges – and so it is pleasing to note that this new netting secures the club’s future here for the next four years.
The new lease was conditional upon the installation of netting to prevent fly-balls leaving the ground. To achieve this, the club received $75,000 through the Office for Recreation and Sport Community Recreation and Sports Facility Program and the remaining amount from the Federal Government.
This is a great result for the club, which has a wonderful 40-year history, supporting generations of local baseball players to experience the joy of competing in a team sport and forging lifelong friendships.
Since it was established the club has produced many baseball champions, some of whom have represented South Australia, winning the Capps Medals for the Best and Fairest. Others have represented Australia – in the case of Mark Hutton, who became the first Australian to be signed to a professional contract with the famous New York Yankees. In 1992 he became the first Australian pitcher to start in a Major League game. He has since been followed to the United States by many other Sturt players.
Even more importantly, the club has provided children an opportunity to play baseball, develop their skills and values, and learn from positive role models.
Sport brings enormous social and physical benefits to everyone involved – and it is clear the Sturt Baseball Club has contributed significantly to the social fabric of the Mitcham community.
South Australian baseball is experiencing significant growth and has a bright future – The State Government is supporting this development by providing $4 million towards the construction of the Diamond Sports State Facility at Adelaide Shores.
Due for completion in August next year, this facility will be used by both the softball and baseball communities. The development will ensure state and national players can play at a high quality facility in their home state on the best surfaces available. It will attract new sporting events and tourism to Adelaide, while enhancing the long term viability of both sports. It is also expected to attract premier sporting academies and training camps, which will in turn provide clear pathways for our local players.
But for any sport to prosper in the long term, it relies on the success of grass-roots clubs. A key contributor to this is local government support – through recreation and sport facilities planning, development, funding, negotiations and community support. I would like to recognise the tireless work of the Mitcham Council to help deliver a great result here at Norman Reserve.
I am delighted the Sturt Baseball Club, Mitcham Council, the State and Federal Governments have been able to work together to reach a solution for the Mitcham community, which secures the future of this great club for its players, administrators, volunteers and families.
Congratulations to all of you for ensuring this project was realised – and I wish the Sturt Baseball Club ongoing success.