Anger over sports funding

By Jessica Micallef

Members of the Kyneton District Soccer Club have been left “disappointed and disgusted” after missing out on much needed funding.

The club was among at least 50 sporting organisations and clubs that missed out on funding through the former federal sports minister Bridget McKenzie’s controversial $100 million grants scheme.

Sport Australia set a rating threshold of 74 out of 100 in order for clubs to receive funding. Kyneton District Soccer Club was one of Sport Australia’s most deserving clubs to receive funding, coming in with a score of 87 out of 100.

Instead of awarding grants to those clubs that qualified, the then sports minister ignored Sport Australia recommendations and instead funnelled money into marginal electorates in the lead-up to last year’s federal election.

Kyneton District Soccer Club president Ron Cole said he was “disturbed” at the federal government’s decision to fund clubs for “political gain”.

“Some people are absolutely gut-wrenched that we missed out, especially now that we have found out how we missed out,” he said.

“From what I am led to believe, Sport Australia recommended us. We were … in the top 20.

“We were supposed to be funded.” The club put in an application for $460,000 to resurface its playing fields. He said the condition of the grounds during winter were “unplayable”.

“We have to find other venues which then put a financial burden on the club because we have to pay to use the indoor facility.”

Mr Cole said five club members spent “hundreds of hours” putting together a grant application.

“We had six weeks from the time it opened to when we had to put the submission in,” he said.

“I would hate to guess how many hours because it was a considerable amount of time.

“Being president, I was chairing the group and the group of ladies involved spent countless hours each day.

“We thought we missed out because our application wasn’t good enough but now we are even more disappointed about this revelation.

“As a small community club, it’s hard to get volunteers and keep people interested.”

Mr Cole said the club will be applying for another grant through the state government’s World Game Facilities Fund.

“It’s the way it was done which is the worst part about it,” he said. “I will stand up for the little guy. I will speak on behalf of all the clubs that didn’t receive funding.

“I feel sorry for all those people who put in the hard work and missed out.”

Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said the club had been “ripped off”.

“We deserve our fair share,” she said. “These worthwhile clubs deserve to know why lower ranked projects received funding over theirs.”