'Better than watching re-runs of soap operas'
THE Alstonville Croquet Club is being equipped with better facilities thanks to a $20,000 State Government grant.
The club serves as a hub for elderly community members aged from 72 to 96.
"Having people stay at home watching Days of Our Lives re-runs is no good," president Robert Jemison said.
"If you can get them out here and be part of the community, it's great - you don't have to be very skilful or fit.
"People who come along to these clubs aren't looking for gold medals in the Olympics; it's an amateur game played by very elderly people.
"We worry about someone if they don't show up, we ring them up and check they're okay.
"We're a caring club."
The new clubhouse, essentially the size of a shipping container, will provide shelter for club members, and they hope to fit it out using more grant funding once the next round is announced.
The dream for Mr Jemison is to have one more lawn to play on, so they can expand membership numbers from 25 to 50.
He said there was sufficient room by the cricket ground nearby, it would just take goodwill from council and more State Government funding.
Mr Jemison was grateful to Ballina MP Tamara Smith who helped with their recent successful Community Building Partnership grant application.
"It has really been hard for older members of our community and for everyone who loves their sport because they haven't been able to play lately," Ms Smith said.
"As we ease out of the restrictions, it's wonderful this club has this facility to support their members."
The grant was approved by an independent panel.
"We want to see more of that," Ms Smith said.
"What we've seen recently is captain's picks just before the (federal) election, and really well-deserving applications were recommended and not funded, and some that were not recommended were funded.
"Our community expects transparency and openness when it comes to grant funding."