HAPPY TIMES: Dunoon United Football Club project co-ordinator Mike Berry (front) and (rear from left) treasurer Peter Hood, president Andrew Bain, secretary Geoff Perin, Lismore City Council parks co-ordinator Martin Soutar, and Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney are thrilled about the grant money.
HAPPY TIMES: Dunoon United Football Club project co-ordinator Mike Berry (front) and (rear from left) treasurer Peter Hood, president Andrew Bain, secretary Geoff Perin, Lismore City Council parks co-ordinator Martin Soutar, and Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney are thrilled about the grant money. DAVID NIELSEN

Pitch perfect for Dunoon

FROM little things, big things grow. It's a saying that especially applies to Dunoon United Football Club.

The club is well on the way to raising the $70,000 it needs to add another soccer pitch to existing facilities at Balzer Oval.

That's no mean feat in the middle of a global economic crisis.

Lismore City Council has already promised to chip in $20,000 for the project and the club received news this week that Football Federation Australia had agreed to put up $10,000.

That's two fairly big players to get involved in such a grass-roots soccer project, but it pays to think big, according to one of the club's life members and the chief lobbyist for the project, Mike Berry.

“It's important to have a facility like this in a rural community like Dunoon, so we have a good case, but we are fighting against much bigger and more established clubs that are all trying to get funding as well,” he said.

“You have to put together an application that is going to attract the attention of those vetting them and assessing them, so you have to put in a strong application.

“We have a strong case because we are out there in terms of being a remote location. We are 20-odd kilometres from Lismore and if we didn't have these facilities I'm not sure kids whether our kids would travel into Lismore to play.”

Berry said Dunoon had experienced an explosion in its player numbers since it was founded in 1994.

“The numbers this year are up,” he said.

“We had 230 registered players for the 2009 season. When we started in 1994 we had 50-odd players and it just seems to have expanded like that every year.”

In addition to the money that has already been promised, the community itself will provide $10,000, which includes a $5000 donation from the Dunoon Sports Club, and they have applied to the State Government for a grant of $28,000 through the NSW Community Building Partnership Program.

The funds will allow the club to undertake earthworks and expand the size of the oval to include full-sized soccer pitches.

“The money will allow the earthworks to be carried out and to extend the existing floodlighting,” he said.

“Without these improvements we wouldn't have been able to accommodate any more players

“This will allow us to continue to expand it as an outlet for the sport.

“It is really, really important to continue to expand what is a rural community facility and I am just thankful to the council and Football Federation Australia for the support.”

Berry also has a message for other grass-roots sporting groups that may be too daunted to apply for such funding.

“What I have found is that it is difficult for clubs to complete the application process,” he said.

“It can be a little bit daunting because of all the questions. Even professional organisations can find it difficult and sometimes it does get a bit too hard.

“But it becomes less daunting after a few times and you gather experience along the way.”



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