By Denis Strangman

The Ginninderra Little Athletics Centre (GLAC) was established at some stage in 1976. The exact date is unknown but the first official Committee meeting was held on 11 August 1976 at 33 Alleyne Close, Macgregor, with Mr Ross Stiles as Chairman.
In those days Little Athletics Centres (LACs) in the A.C.T. were affiliated with the N.S.W. Little Athletics Association (NSWLAA), following the failure of an attempt during the previous two seasons to maintain a separate ACTLAA. It was later said in 1985 by the first Chairman of the newly re established ACTLAA that the reasons for the failure of the first Association were “… (a) that it attempted to operate beyond its financial and human resources and (b) that it was split by internal conflicts”.

Corroboree Park Centre was the first LAC established in the A.C.T. in 1971, under the sponsorship of the Corroboree Park YMCA Committee of Management. There was also a Belconnen Centre in existence during 1971/72 and a Queanbeyan Centre had been established, which lapsed during 1974/75. Southside (now Woden) followed in 1972/73, and the first A.C.T. Little Athletics Association was established during 1974/75.

An A.C.T. team competed at the Interstate Teams’ Competition (ITC) in Perth in 1975 and at the ITC in Adelaide in 1976. Two of the three A.C.T. Centres which, at that time, consisted of Corroboree, Belconnen, and Southside, voted to disband the separate ACT Association and all three rejoined NSWLAA during 1976/77 which is when Ginninderra came into existence, as well as Weston Creek LAC. Queanbeyan was also reactivated during 1976/77.

It appears that before GLAC was formally established there was a “Ginninderra Little Athletics Club” in existence because the balance of funds from that Club and funds from a “Latham Little Athletics Club” were later transferred to GLAC. Perhaps these Clubs were associated with the first ACTLAA during its brief existence. As a matter of fact, the original official name of the Centre was the “Ginninderra Centre of the Little Athletics Association of New South Wales” until this was changed to its present title on Incorporation in 1983.

The First Committee Meeting
At the first GLAC Committee meeting there was discussion on two possible locations for the Centre Spence or Charnwood, and members of the executive were to inspect both locations with a representative from City Parks. The Committee selected Registration day as 25 September 1976. The official age range was to be U6 to U12 with 4 years as the minimum age but only if older children from the same family were also registered with the Centre. Fees were to be $3 per child with a maximum of $8 for three or more children. Competition was to commence on 2 October 1976.

At the next Committee meeting on 13 September 1976 the decision about a ground had been made the Department had selected Charnwood. Two megaphones had been bought and Mr Colman was to make a sample hurdle for the Committee to examine before ordering a complete set. Stop watches were to be borrowed until some were purchased by the Centre. Public risk insurance was taken out with Legal and General.

There is a letter dated 16 September 1976 in the GLAC records which indicates that the Centre’s Publicity Officer understood that the Centre was intended to encompass Melba, Spence, Evatt, Charnwood, Macgregor, and Flynn. Fraser, at this time, was barely off the ground as a suburb. Three years later there was a minor “territorial dispute” with Belconnen LAC when GLAC allegedly began advertising for members in the suburbs of Kaleen and Giralang. At the Monaro Zone meeting on 6 August 1980 the Zone Chairman was to get together with the Presidents of the two Centres “to work out the boundaries” but nothing remains in the GLAC records to indicate any official decision on this subject. What has happened over the years is that historical coverage, community of interest, and self selection by parents or children, has defined informal boundaries for both Centres because, theoretically, a child can actually enrol in whichever Centre they choose.

Ready To Commence
At the Committee meeting on 27 September Mr Stiles reported that City Parks believed the ground would be ready by 25 September but it was not. More than 100 children had been registered on 25 September and others were anticipated. Mr Colman’s sample hurdle was approved and permission given for him to conduct a raffle to cover costs for a complete set. The Committee decided that the Centre uniform would consist of a yellow shirt with a black “G”, and white shorts, and this information was notified to the NSWLAA which had also allocated “73” as the Centre’s identification number.

By 18 ‘October 1976 there were 241 children U6 U12 registered, with 27 U5’s and 13 U13’s in the “unofficial” age groups, making a total of 268 children. A Mr Eggins had helped with the welding of the hurdles and they were to be ready in two weeks. There was to be a weekly raffle. By 8 November there were 270 U6 U12 registrations. 273 was the figure later selected for official notification to he NSWLAA but a figure of 266 is actually shown in the NSWLAA Annual Report for 1978/79.

By Christmas there was a credit balance of $501 43 in the Centre’s accounts. $50 had been spent on materials for the hurdles (which were apparently later given as a gift to Tuggeranong LAC during the 1978/79 season), foam for the High Jumps had been purchased, a starting pistol and caps had been bought, and high jump covers and bars purchased. A House of Assembly Member, Mr J. Clements, had agreed to become Patron of the Centre. Approval was given to spend $300 on a trailer and there were even funds available to make a donation of $20 to “the new Queanbeyan Centre”. In November 1976 Mr A. Watson commenced coaching sessions on Tuesday and Thursday between 5 6 p.m. and Mr Watson and Mr Charlie Cover were the joint GLAC Team managers for the Zone championships on 21 and 28 November 1976, with Mrs Castle the Team manageress.

First Annual General Meeting
By the time of the first Annual General Meeting, held on 6 April 1977, at “Nellie” Hall, Melba, the inaugural President, Mr Stiles, was able to report that despite the lack of experience by a majority of the children “and certainly most of the parents” the initial meetings flowed quite successfully. He noted that the Centre had been able to purchase all of the equipment required in the first season and had saved considerable amounts of money through “the ingenuity and hard work of some of the parents”. He thanked Mr Nigel Crew for walk judging, and Mr Clements for his patronage and presentation of trophies. At the AGM Mr Stiles was re elected as President. Mr Colman was elected as Chairman and Mrs Colman as Secretary. Mr R. Toohey was elected as Treasurer.

The first Centre Treasurer, Mr Ed Brannigan, presented a financial statement which showed income of $1,672 12 and expenditure of $1,313 26. There had been a grant of $100 from NSW LAA and $200 from the TAB. The canteen had brought in $140 95 but the major item of income was Registration Fees of $885. $538 44 had been spent on equipment.

The First Championships
Mrs Castle, the Recorder, presented a full list of championship winners to the AGM. Catherine Porter (U9) won the Clements’ trophy for the best girl at the Centre Championships and Ray Colman (U11) the Clements’ trophy for the best boy. The best junior boy was Warren Armour (U6), and the best junior girl, Leah Toohey (U7). Twenty five children from GLAC competed at the NSW Country Championships during this first season and won 3 silver and 3,,bronze medals. Six went on to compete at the NSW Championships. This was a very creditable performance by a Centre that was less than one year old.

Parents Who Were Involved
Strangely, in all the records of the Centre which have survived there is no precise identification as to the name of the Centre secretary in this inaugural year, although there is a strong possibility that it was Mrs Pam Colman. The minutes simply note that “the secretary” was among those present at various meetings. Names of parents involved with the Centre which were identified in the minutes or correspondence for this first year, but have not been mentioned already, included: B. Daw, T. Pengelly (former Treasurer GLA Club), B. Roach, B. McLennan, B. Eggins, J. Rutledge, B. 0’Lochlin, L. Rigney, and M. McGurgan. Needless to say there were probably other parents, not listed here, who were active in the Centre during this inaugural season but whose names did not find their way into the surviving records.

From Strength to Strength
GLAC made steady progress in the next six seasons and this is reflected in the official number of GLAC registrations of little athletes notified to NSWLAA headquarters. The numbers are unlikely to have been inflated because each registration obliged the Centre to pay an affiliation fee to NSWLAA and over the years this amounted annually to hundreds of dollars.

Registrations 1976/77 1982/83

1976/77 283
1977/78 266
1978/79 285
1979/80 332
1980/81 449
1981/82 534
1982/83 553 (361 new + 192 re reg.)

Not only was the figure of 553 for 1982/83 registrations the highest number for any A.C.T. Centre affiliated with the NSWLAA but the table of State wide figures presented to the NSWLAA Board of Management meeting held in Sydney on 12 January 1983 indicated that GLAC was the fifth largest Centre of the 153 Centres then affiliated with NSWLAA. Next in size greater than GLAC was the Campbelltown City centre. Total NSW registrations at this time were 32,695, compared to 25,516 at the same time a year earlier. In 1980/81 GLAC had been ranked only 14th in size of the NSWLAA affiliates. The 1982/83 figure has been the highest annual registration figure yet achieved by the Centre and reflected the then size and age composition of families within the suburbs covered by the Centre and the interest generated by the Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane.

During 1977 GLAC was involved with the Monaro Zone’s activities which brought together the A.C.T. and neighbouring Centres. Messrs. C. Cover, Toohey, and Porter had attended coaching courses. Our Sydney based “proxy/sister” Centre was Holroyd Centre and they were advised of GLAC’s voting instructions for the 1977 NSWLAA Annual Conference. Storage of equipment was a problem and unsuccessful approaches were made to the Belconnen Netball Association to rent space in its building at the netball courts at Charnwood. At the Committee meeting on 3 October 1977 authorisation was given to order two more high jump bags. These were later purchased at a cost of $295. At the meeting on 28 November 1977 there was talk of a need to roster parents next season to ensure the successful conduct of the Saturday morning competition. There was also news of a new Centre being proposed for the Kambah area.

The ITC Carnival was scheduled for the new Stadium at Bruce on the Easter weekend of 1978. Ginninderra was involved in billeting the Tasmanian and Northern Territory teams and some children from GLAC were to participate in the invitation events at the Carnival.

At the second AGM held on 21 March 1978 Mr Stiles paid particular tribute to Mr and Mrs Peter and Pam Colman who were leaving Canberra to return to Sydney at the end of the year. He said that over the last two seasons they had been “a force in the direction and equipping of the Centre”. He also stressed something which every President ever since has found necessary to reiterate: the importance of parental participation in the work of the Centre.
Mr Toohey’s Treasurer’s Report revealed income of $2,281 and expenditure of $1,419. A further $426 had been spent on equipment for the Centre but at the Committee meeting held on 11 April it was said that the shortage of suitable equipment was becoming acute.

Equipment Storage
Storage of the Centre’s equipment was a problem. In a letter dated 24 July 1978 the Department of Capital Territory gave permission for GLAC to erect a storage shed in the City Parks secure area near the netball courts. The shed, which was eventually erected during September and October, saved parents from transporting the equipment every Saturday and from the need to retain the heavy items at their homes during winter but the mats and bags always needed a good shaking out for their first use of the season because the shed was a favourite haunt of spiders. At one stage the heavy high jump bags had to be carried across the road and stored at Charnwood High School. The shed was subsequently demolished during the 1988/89 season as the
Centre headed towards its much awaited permanent structure at the Northern end which became operational in time for the 1989/90 season.

The Recorder, Mrs Goodwin, reported to the 1978 AGM the establishment of 90 new Centre records from a total of 140 events. In the election for the new Executive Mr Stiles was re elected as President, Mr I.Porter was elected as Vice President, Mrs Rita Mee as Secretary, and Mr Ray Toohey as Treasurer.

During the 1977/78 season nine boys and twenty girls from GLAC had participated in the NSWLAA Country Championships
1978 marked the commencement of a search for a suitable badge and uniform. At the AGM Mrs Rita Mee had asked why yellow was chosen as the Club’s colour it seemed that every other club had yellow. But at this stage a motion to have a special uniform for championships was defeated. Later, Bob Mee undertook some research and was told that a large gum tree was considered to represent a local landmark for the Ginninderra area. The idea of a gum tree or an outline of Bruce Stadium were put forward for consideration. As we now know, an outline of the structure of the Bruce Stadium was incorporated in Ginninderra’s motif for the singlets and T shirts. With the recent usurpation of the stadium by the Raiders Club and the tearing up of the synthetic athletics track it might be time once again to consider an alteration to our Centre uniform.
Five new stopwatches were purchased. The new hurdles were in use and the old set had been donated to Tuggeranong. A tent and new high jump bags were required.

Statehood for the A.C.T. was still an issue. At its meeting on 1 February 1979 the Committee voted in favour of statehood for A.C.T. Little A’s. The subject was discussed at a meeting of the Monaro Zone and in March it was reported back to GLAC that Woden, Corroboree, Belconnen and Queanbeyan were against, while Weston and Tuggeranong wanted the matter investigated further.
At the third AGM held on 27 March 1979 the Treasurer was able to report that the Centre was in a sound financial position and “most of the essential equipment has now been purchased”. $250 had been received from the Department of Capital Territory towards an estimated cost of $750 for a new set of hurdles. During the 1978/79 season seven boys and four girls from GLAC had gone on to the NSWLAA Championships and had obtained four places.

The experience of accepting the very young age groups must have proved a problem because it was decided at the AGM that five year olds without an older brother or sister would not be allowed to register. Stephen Porter and Cathy Porta were selected as recipients of the Colman trophies.

At an earlier meeting the Committee had noted that criteria for selection for the Colman trophies included attendance, attitude to competition, and the way in which a child accepts winning and defeat.

In the elections for a new Committee Mr F.J. (Ben) Casey was elected as President, Mr Bob Mee as Vice President, Mrs Rita Mee as Secretary, and Mr Ray Toohey was elected Treasurer and Equipment Officer. The minutes also record “… A special ‘thank you’ to Mr Stiles on his retirement for the wonderful job he had done in establishing the Club and best wishes were offered to him and his family for their future in Seoul.”

In his report, the retiring President Mr Stiles made a special mention of Charlie Cover “… whose enthusiasm as a coach has done a great deal for our children”. He added: “Charlie came to the Centre as I did with little knowledge of athletics and to use his words ‘to keep his kids out of the local shop at the weekend’. Congratulations Charlie on a job well done.”
During these early years GLAC played its part in meetings of the Monaro Zone Co ordination body and in helping to organise the Monaro Zone Championships. Each Centre was required to provide a quota of officials and equipment for major competitions. For example, at the Zone Championships held on 25 26 November 1978, Rita Mee was one of the announcers, Bob Mee was the Chief Assembly Marshall and Ray Toohey was the Field Referee. GLAC also usually supplied the hurdles for these competitions. For a brief period Bob Mee was Zone Co ordinator and Ray Toohey was involved with a Zone Finance sub committee.

There seems to have been continuing discussion about the place of very young registrants. At the Committee meeting on 5 June it was decided that variety games should be introduced to occupy the five and six year olds.

The Uniform Debate
The Committee meeting on 10 July saw the culmination of the uniform debate: “After great discussion the new club colours and design were agreed on and will be blue and gold. Blue shorts with a gold trim. Gold shirt with blue hoops and trim.” But it was not to be. The minutes note that the proposal was later raised with the Zone and the point was made that the colours were the same as the ACT’s and “statehood” still remained on the horizon when those colours might then be utilised by A.C.T. representatives. A special meeting was held and it was agreed to retain the gold and black, with black shorts with a yellow trim, and a black and yellow striped athletic singlet. Supplies were ordered and when the season commenced in September they sold well, so much so that 60 more singlets needed to be ordered in October.

Misbehaviour by little athletes occupied the Committee’s attention early in the 1979/80 season. One suspects that insufficient numbers of parents were assisting because it was decided in October to roster parents and if they did not come then their child would not be allowed to compete in the following week. “Bad manners and foul language will not be tolerated and will be dealt with in the same way”. Again, in November: “If children misbehaved they should be sent to Bruce Gooday (the program organiser) for reprimand and sent to sit on the hill until after their event”. But by February of 1980: “This (misbehaviour) has now sorted itself out. A roster must be organised for next year and parents must participate”.

At the AGM held on 8 March 1980, F.J. (Ben) Casey was elected as President, Ray Toohey as Vice President, Janet Munce as Secretary, and Judith Carter as Treasurer. The finance statement for 21/3/79 6/3/80 revealed that income had been $4,502 and expenditure $3,979. Registrations had generated $2235 and uniforms $917, while the Centre had spent $1274 on purchasing the new uniforms.

In his President’s report Mr Casey made special mention of Bob and Rita Mee and Pat Porter who were ceasing involvement because their children were moving into senior athletics, and to Joan Porta “our faithful recorder”. He also thanked Charlie Cover who was still helping with the coaching.

Ray Toohey, Brian McConnell and Ben Casey shared the representation of GLAC on the Monaro Zone committee and Casey and Toohey were GLAC delegates to the NSWLAA Conference at Finley on 26 27 July 1980. Indeed, Ray Toohey was also listed to be the long jump referee at the NSWLAA country championships at Narrabeen in Sydney.

The Committee reiterated its decision to only accept five and six year olds if they had an older brother or sister registered.
The new season in September again revealed a lack of parent participation but by later October this had improved. One wonders if there had been a veiled threat to limit registrations unless parents promised to assist because at the meeting on 22 October 1980 “it was decided not to limit the number of children joining the centre”.

In November the Committee asked DCT to construct a new track and this was finished by early December but the Centre was required to concrete the discus circle using its own resources. Little athletes from Bega came to GLAC for an informal track and field meeting in November and were to be billeted with Centre families. What was possibly the first ever GLAC “twilight meeting” was scheduled for 10 December and this was repeated again on 18 February 1981. As an indication of the continuous length of participation by some Ginninderra Little A’s the Committee in December ordered badges for 200 and 300 events. Every year there had been a gradual development, with the Centre first ordering 50 event badges, then 100, then 150, and now they had reached 200 and 300 events.

Pennants for presentation were apparently made by the inmates at Berrima jail and 150 of the pennants arrived in March 1981. It is possible that students at one of the local High Schools had something to do with the construction of the Centre’s banner because mention was made in the minutes that their involvement was to be sought.

At the 1981 Annual General Meeting held during two Saturdays on 14 and 21 March 1981 Ben Casey was re elected as President and Ray Toohey as Vice President with Sandra Casey as Secretary and Judith Carter as Treasurer. In his report the President made special mention of Brian McConnell who had been coaching, Bruce Gooday (the hapless adjudicator of misbehaved childrenl) for his organisation of the weekly program, and Charlie Cover who was also assisting with the coaching of the older children.
Income for the 1980 81 Centre year had been $5,734 50 and expenditure $4,611 14. Registration fees brought in $2,664 of which $1,347 went straight to the NSWLAA. The new uniform was still generating business with an income of $1,143 and the canteen, surprisingly, brought in $1,158 (not accounting for purchases of supplies). $303 had been spent on equipment.

More 100, 200 and 300 badges arrived in June, and in July Ray Toohey prepared a detailed paper on fund raising for presentation to the NSWLAA Annual Conference in July. The cost of the Centre singlet had risen to $11 and the committee wondered if this was too costly for parents. The Committee also decided at its meeting on 7 July to increase the registration fees to $7 for the first and second children, $3 for each additional child, with a maximum of $20 per family. It was noted that the increase was necessary “in view of the loss of grants from Government sources”. A new tent was purchased for $200 before the 1981/82 season commenced and eight new digital watches were also purchased at a cost of $250.

GLAC continued its involvement with the Monaro Zone. Ben Casey was officer for officials at the Relays and Ray Toohey was Chief Referee for jumps at the Regional Championships, while Carmel Toohey was Chief Official for the long jump. Ben Casey and Ray Toohey were the GLAC representatives at Zone meetings.

Early in 1982 a new high jump bag was purchased at a cost of $272. Another 200 pennants were ordered from Berrima. At a Committee meeting on 19 March the President thanked Judith Carter for the five years she had served on the Centre Committee. The Colman trophies for performances and conduct during the 1981/82 season were awarded to Debbie Leigh and David Greenwood.
“Statehood” was still a topic of discussion and at this stage GLAC was opposed to any such move but recommended that “… we take whatever steps necessary to achieve equal representation by city and country children at State Championships by conducting equal number of elimination steps for both prior to the State Championships”. At a Zone meeting around this time it was reported that all Centres had voted “No” to Statehood.

The storage of equipment remained a problem and there were unsuccessful attempts to hire the pavilion at the Southern end of the Charnwood field. The Centre was also told by the relevant Departmental officials that if it wanted to change the sand in the long jump pits it would have to undertake the task itself.

Five children from the Centre attended a cross country camp at Broken Bay around Easter time. A report by one of the young participants said that while it was good fun “The food wasn’t very nice”.

At the Committee meeting on 25 May an interesting resolution was adopted: “It was generally felt that there should be less competition for younger children, that parents should be educated and a booklet of explanations produced. We should look at the program for the U8 downwards and introduce games”.

In July Registration fees were increased to $8 each for the first two children, $6 each for subsequent children, with a maximum of $28 per family. This was the year of the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane and the Centre was budgeting for 560 registrations with an anticipated need to despatch $2,240 in affiliation fees to NSWLAA. In return, the NSWLAA sent one of its Development Officers on occasions for a tour of the area and the representative would speak to students in the various primary schools telling them about Little Athletics. Amusingly, there are one or two letters in the Centre records from teachers at local primary schools asking for help from parents at the Centre because of the interest in athletics generated by the existence of the Centre. There are also letters of appreciation from primary and secondary schools for the use of the Centre’s equipment although on one occasion the equipment was returned in such bad condition that the stipulation was introduced that no “essential equipment” be loaned out.

The Committee in September expressly thanked Ted Reynolds for his assistance to the Centre. Ted was to be based in Sydney but would continue to help when he could. Plans were made for the cementing of a second discus pad and a public address system, costing $137, was to be purchased. It was decided in October to seek permission to erect a shed. Also in October a decision was made to commence proceedings for Incorporation and a local solicitor and law lecturer, Alexander Bates, was involved in this. Interestingly, at the October meeting there was a foreshadowed motion to discuss an alternative venue to Charnwood but in January Shane Rees reported that no suitable alternative ground was available.

During the 1982/83 season the Centre registered its largest number of little athletes 553, and perhaps it was this which had prompted discussion of an alternative venue. Those who remember those days say that the record enrolment was a spin off from the Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane in that year. The registrations for the next five seasons were:

Registrations 1983/84 1987/88

1983/84 436 (270 new, 166 re reg.)
1984/85 492
1985/86 318 (173 boys, 145 girls)
1986/87 409 (233 boys, 176 girls)
1987/88 384 (213 boys, 171 girls)

Having initiated the Incorporation process it was necessary to formally adopt the name of the Centre and the resolution to achieve this was moved by Shane Rees on 20 January 1983.

In January Jeanette Reynolds took over as Treasurer and Shane Rees reported to the Committee that the Department would not permit a permanent building on the grounds.

In February when the Centre was probably at its busiest time ever there was a serious dispute among the officials. The exact cause and substance of it have been lost to history but it revolved around alleged favoured treatment in the selection of Centre participants in a championship or carnival. There is no point in relating the claims and counter claims made at the time and the names of the individuals who were involved but the incident underlines the point that no human institution is perfect and that organisations which rely on voluntary help always run the risk of tearing themselves apart.

Friction can occur at all levels. There can be tensions between officials and committee members, between Centres and the Board of Management, and particularly between those parents who do assist the Centre and those parents who treat it as a cheap form of child minding for a Saturday morning. For example, in 1986 a parent wrote to the Committee complaining of her child being pushed and shoved and trodden on by children wearing spikes while waiting for events to commence. To reinforce the evidence the parent claimed that she had even witnessed such behaviour on those few occasions when she had visited the field herself. Her letter must have been like a red rag to a bull. After discussion by the Committee the Secretary replied that the Centre did not condone the incidents but they “… can be reduced by increased adult supervision but unfortunately, the level of parental involvement has left a lot to be desired”.

There have been some monumental brawls in the administration and conduct of Little A’s and I am sure the same applies in other voluntary sporting administrations. Two examples come to mind. Race walking has always been a strong feature of Ginninderra’s activities and at one stage in these early years a walking judge associated with Ginninderra was actually suspended from judging for three months because of a judging incident involving other officials and parents. Referring to Centre and Association relations after the re establishment of the ACTLAA, the inaugural Chairman Mike Shephard wrote in his 1985/86 Report: “Perhaps the bigger problem than poor communication was the excellent communication of misinformation … I have never experienced such a high level of character assassination, misinterpretation of motives and uninformed gossip”. His comments remind me of a notice which has done the rounds of various Departments in Canberra: “NOTICE. This Department requires no Physical Fitness Program. Everyone gets enough exercise, Jumping to conclusions, Flying off the handle, Running down the boss, Knifing friends in the back, Dodging responsibility, and Pushing their luck.”
The 1983 AGM

At the Annual General Meeting on 12 March 1983 Ray Toohey was elected as President, Shane Rees as Vice President, Jeanette Reynolds as Treasurer, and Joy Tobin as Secretary. Ben Casey was no longer President and Sandra Casey had resigned from the Committee earlier but she continued to play an active role in Little A’s activities as secretary of the Monaro Zone. Income for the previous twelve months was $8,587 and expenditure $8,238.

The Colman trophies for the 1982/83 season were awarded to Stephen Carter and Ramona Rees. GLAC was involved with billets for the Queensland LAA team to the ITC at Bruce on 19 April 1983 and a year later Queensland LAA showed its appreciation by forwarding a trophy known as the “Queensland Trophy” which then became part of the perpetual trophies awarded on each annual presentation day. At the Committee meeting on 29 February 1984, after receipt of the trophy, “… it was decided by the Committee that this trophy would be presented to an U13 boy or girl and would be a coach’s trophy”.

Incorporation was proceeding and on 29 June 1983 a Special General Meeting followed the AGM which had been adjourned from 12 March. At this meeting a new Constitution was adopted on the motion of Shane Rees and Alexander Bates and Mr Bates was thanked for the work he had put into drafting it.

The subject of “Statehood” was again on the agenda and in July the Committee this time expressed support for “statehood”. At the next monthly meeting it positively supported the establishment of the proposed ACTLAA and this information was conveyed to Lance Smith of Monaro Zone by a letter dated 3 November 1983. Ginninderra apparently still had the responsibility for supplying hurdles to the Zone championships, which it did again for the championships held during 26 27 November 1983. In October it had assisted other Centres in the area by holding a preliminary coaching clinic for Northside centres at Charnwood oval on 16 and 23 October. Charnwood has the advantage of adequate circular lanes and good long jump pits and that is why it has often been used for joint activities such as the Regional Championships.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank had approved a loan, in principle, for a kiosk/storage facility at the oval. The Centre planned to apply to the A.C.T. House of Assembly for $6,000 for a building and there appears to be a suggestion that the “hill” was seen as an appropriate location for the building. The Centre was apparently using a caravan owned by West Canberra Football Club for storage of equipment.

In August registration fees were increased to $10 for each of the first two children, $8 for each of the next two, and $5 for each child thereafter. In September the Centre received news of a grant of $2,720 from the Department of Territories for purchase of equipment. In October a “pie drive” was undertaken which raised $385.25 but it was reported that only 60 of 210 families in the Centre had ordered pies. In November Shane Rees resigned and the Committee thanked him for his involvement. The Committee also expressed it appreciation in December to Warren and Karen Peters who were moving to Perth.

Over Christmas and New Year of 1983/84 there were still dreams of doing something with the pavilion at the southern end of the oval. The Information Sheet for the 1983/84 Season had been very confident: “This year we hope to have our own building erected on the oval”. In February there was a promising meeting with the Department about a separate new building: “[It] was very successful in that they have accepted our need for the building and have agreed to build Lit] at entirely their own cost”. The promise was there but it eventually proved to be merely another unfulfilled chapter in the building saga. It appears that despite approval and endorsement at various levels of the administration a decision was made by the Minister, Mr Tom Uren, that the Tuggeranong area required priority attention because it had fewer facilities.

Establishment of the ACTLAA was progressing. There had been a meeting of the Interim Board on 17 November 1983 and later, a Mr Culyer represented GLAC on this interim board. He was later joined by Alexander Bates. The inaugural meeting of the ACTLAA was held on 23 May 1984 at the Reid TAFE College. Joy Tobin and Jeanette Reynolds were present from GLAC and Alexander Bates chaired the meeting for the election of officials. Sandra Casey was elected secretary of the new Association. Shoprite became the official local sponsor of Little Athletics at this time and signed a contract for the next three years which they subsequently renewed for a further three years. A banner advertising ACTLAA still hangs on the wall of the Charnwood Shoprite store.

Toohey Retires
In his 1983/84 President’s Report Ray Toohey said that he would be standing aside for Alexander Bates. Toohey noted that Incorporation had taken place during the last twelve months (Certificate No. 1009>. He told the meeting: “My belief is that little athletics must now mature to be a family affair. More emphasis needs to be placed on involving parents”. The new President was Alexander Bates, the Vice President was Alan Kopcikas, Secretary Joy Tobin, and Treasurer Ray Trewin. The financial statement for 1983184 revealed an income of $12,419 and expenditure of $11,862.

In May 1984 the Committee expressed special thanks and appreciation to former President Ray Toohey and thanks to Jeanette Reynolds.

The pavilion was again discussed in May and June and it was suggested that parents write to the appropriate Minister, Mr Tom Uren. If the Department was not forthcoming McDonalds was, and gave 400 vouchers to the Centre, plus 25 Achievers’ Awards, for distribution.

Two more high jump bags were purchased at a total cost of $1,718. These were purchased through the ANU Sports Union. There were also plans for an extra shot put and discus area and a separate 100m track.

Advertising of the Centre prior to the new season was telecast on the Channel 7 “Community Billboard” program.
Sandra Casey attended the GLAC Committee meeting on 10 November 1984 as secretary of the new ACTLAA. She had continued her involvement from the Monaro Zone and in 1985 was one of the first delegates to represent the ACT at an ALAU Conference. She had spent two years as public relations officer for GLAC, two years as secretary of GLAC, and two years as secretary of the Monaro Zone. The final meeting of the Monaro Zone was held on 26 September 1984. It took only five minutes and the major decision was to pass $681.01 in remaining funds to the new ACTLAA. This five minute meeting was followed by a meeting of the ACTLAA at which GLAC was represented by Trevor Vogler.

In early March 1985 there was talk of the development of a new Centre at South Tuggeranong. Charlie Cover, who had been involved with coaching at GLAC in the early days, was now one of the coaches for the 1985 ACT team to that year’s ITC.
Income for GLAC for 1984185 was $6,094 and expenditure was $4,802, half of which went to the ACTLAA in affiliation fees. At this time the President was still Alexander Bates, Vice President was Shane Evans, Treasurer Ray Trewin, and Peter Sammons was Secretary.

On 13 August the Committee decided to increase registration fees to $12 for the each of the first two children, $10 for each of the next two, and $7 for subsequent children. Those children under 6 were not to be accepted unless they had older siblings registered and then they must compete as U7’s.

In December the Committee decided against the inclusion of U11’s in the ITC team but the Board of Management decided otherwise. Involvement of parents must have still been a problem because the Committee intended examining the possibility of a compulsory roster system.

In a Centre Newsletter issued early in 1986 the Centre asked for more parental involvement and in the process underlined the word please.

At a Committee meeting on 11 February 1986 there was further refinement of the criteria for the various trophies awarded by the Centre. The perpetual trophy was to be for the child who epitomises the Little A’s spirit in the junior category of U7 U10, and in the Senior category of U11 U13. The consistently improved trophies were to be selected by the Recorder, and the President’s trophy was to be awarded for achievement. A points factor was later introduced into the decision making process for the consistently improved trophies.

At the meeting on 11 March 1986 the three key officials of Bates, Trewin and Sammons were re elected and the Committee expressed its appreciation for the “outstanding efforts” made by the current Vice President, Shane Evans, who had spent four years on the Executive and had been a member of the Centre since its foundation. “Shane’s van” had been used to store equipment. Shane Evans gave a report at the Presentation day and claimed that GLAC “now have the best LA facilities of any Centre in the A.C.T.” Also at the Presentation Day an U13 girl Kerry Leigh received a 600 event trophy. She had been at GLAC since the U6’s in 1978/79 and while it is mathematically possible that there was an earlier recipient of a 600 event trophy no records of any previous award have remained.

At the meeting on 20 May there was discussion of a recruitment drive for the next season “particularly in view of the somewhat disappointing 1985/86 season”. The registrations for the season had been 318, consisting of 173 boys and 145 girls.
“Parent involvement” was a continuing pre occupation and on 8 July there was a suggestion at the Committee meeting that if a parent fails to assist at least once a month then they will be required to pay Championship fees, and the costs of any trophies won by their children.

Ginninderra personnel continued their involvement in the combined Association activities and at the ACTLAA Board of Management meeting on 9 September 1986 Shane Evans was appointed to the vacant position of Competitions Director.

Early registrations for the 1986/87 Season were encouraging and by 4 November 400 children had been registered. The total for the season was 409, which compared with 415 for Tuggeranong and 405 for Belconnen representing the largest Centres in the Association. It was around this time that the suggestion of the purchase of a rotary hoe to turn the sand in the long jump pits prior to competition on the Saturday morning was first raised. It was finally obtained in time for the 1988/89 season.

At the Committee meeting on 3 February 1987 an “old face” returned to GLAC when Ray Toohey visited on behalf of the Coaches’ Association and Striders’ Club. An informal link with Striders has been maintained over the years although it is not the only Senior Club to which Little A’s from GLAC belong.

Peter Sammons and Trevor Vogler represented GLAC at the ACTLAA meetings and in March the Centre received a letter conveying special thanks for the work done by Malcolm Townley as equipment officer for the Northside Regionals. Malcolm currently occupies the same position for the Association, and the Association’s equipment is stored by GLAC. Peg Townley was also involved with the coaching and had succeeded Trevor Vogler in the coaching role who, in turn, had succeeded Mick Ahern.
Alexander Bates continued as President, and Ray Trewin as Treasurer but by May Margaret Muir had assumed the position of Secretary. In June there was talk of a fence to enclose the caravan in which the equipment was stored. This was finally accomplished in early 1988. The financial statement for 1986/87 showed income of $7,849 and expenditure of $6,136.
Representatives of GLAC at the ACTLAA annual conference on 19 July 1987 were Trevor Vogler and Rose Gow. The Centre unsuccessfully moved at the Conference to reinstate a 800m walk for U10’s as an official event. During July and August there was discussion of new proposals for the conduct of the Centre’s program, including a suggestion of conducting the pre competition warm up to the sound of music. Trevor Vogler and Kevin Mann represented the Centre at the regular ACTLAA meeting on 9 November 1987.

Athletes from GLAC have always played a prominent part in A.C.T. teams selected to compete in the Interstate Teams’ Championships. I do not believe that any GLAC athlete ever made it into the NSWLAA ITC team when the Centre was a part of New South Wales LAA but since “statehood” there have been GLAC athletes in the A.C.T. teams which competed in Melbourne (1985), Adelaide (1986), Darwin (1987), Sydney (1988), and Brisbane (1989). There have been several GLAC placegetters, including a first place to Garry Vogler in the U12 boys’ 1500m walk at the Darwin ITC. In the early days the competition which GLAC little athletes aimed for was the “NSWLAA Country Championships” and a glance at the old results sheets shows that GLAC representatives were quite successful with frequent appearances in the first three places and several country records to their credit e.g. P. Gooday established the U9 boys’ HJ record of 1.29m on 11 February 1978 and S. Mee established the U12 boys’ 1500m walk record of 7 min. 52 sec. on 25 February 1979.

It is perhaps appropriate to conclude this short history at the end of 1987 which is when the current officials became more involved in the conduct of the Centre. To chronicle the virtues and activities of today’s officials would be a little invidious and might attract charges of “misinformation”! Their role can be covered by the person who writes the history of the Centre’s entry into the 21st Century. But the saga of the Centre storage building would be incomplete if no mention was made of the failure of the Department to build a storage building and the eventual need for the Centre to embark on the task with the help of a Government grant. The building was finished and occupied in time for the 1989/90 season, but not before thieves had made off with the first set of roller doors even before the building had been put to use.

After thirteen years of activity the problem of adequate storage for equipment had been finally solved. The current Committee is working, and no doubt Committees of the future will still be working, on the more intractable problem of “parental involvement” but unfortunately it cannot be solved by a new building or a Government grant!

Many new parents cannot be criticised too severely for initial hesitancy in getting involved. They are not unlike the author who arrived at his first Centre meeting four years ago with a fold up chair and a thermos flask thinking that everyone out on the field knew exactly what they were doing and didn’t want any assistance from “amateurs”! After a while you realise that there is always a task waiting to be done. Are there any would be walk judges out there, just waiting for some tuition on how to diplomatically convey race walk “reports” to Little A’s, particularly to their own children when necessary?

One can look at the history of an organisation of this nature in terms of the history of individuals associated with the Centre, its officials, its athletes, or its interaction with other components of the Little Athletics movement. This story has attempted to include a sample of everything. If people feel that the names of some earlier activists have been unnecessarily omitted then please accept my apologies. The story was based on the surviving written records of the Centre and while it is the tradition to include a list of the major officials who have held office in an organisation there were undoubtedly many other parents, particularly those who were recorders and registrars, who ran the canteen, or sold the uniforms, or assisted with coaching, or acted as age marshals, who contributed to the progress of the Centre, but whose names were not singled out for particular mention.

By the way, did you notice how the Centre was continually outlaying funds for new high jump bags? Does anyone know how to go about investing in the shares of manufacturers of high jump bags?

Fraser, Canberra. October 1989.

Recent History

In 1976 ‘Ginninderra Centre of the Little Athletics Association of New South Wales’ was formed and based at Charnwood Oval. The Centre was to cater for children in Melba, Spence, Evatt, Charnwood, Macgregor, Flynn and the fledgling suburb of Fraser. The first official committee meeting was held on 11 Aug 1976 with Mr Ross Stiles as Chairman. First Registration day was 25 Sept 1976 and competition started on 2 Oct 1976 catering for U6 to U12 age groups. In the first season there were 266 athletes.

In 2000 a major sponsorship arrangement was entered into with the West Belconnen Leagues Club. The Centre was renamed ‘Ginninderra-West Belconnen Little Athletics Centre’. The Committee of Ginninderra Little Athletics Centre decided to establish a seniors club primarily to ‘transition’ its young athletes into senior competition. The name ‘West Belconnen Athletics Club’ was chosen because of te support and encouragementof the West Belconnen Leagues Club. The Athletics Club was incorporated in September 2000 ready for the summer athletics season. The eventual aim was to be able to merge the LA’s Centre and the new Club at the earliest possible time once the administrative obstacles could be overcome. This would establish the Club as the only “all age” athletics club in the ACT. The LA’s Centre and the Club were merged and reincorporated in August 2001. In 2009 the joint Club changed its name to Ginninderra Little Athletics Centre.

In 2018, Ginninderra Little Athletics Centre merged with the UC Ginninderra Athletics Club to form Ginninderra Athletics Club, the first all ages Athletics Club in the ACT.

The Club has seen its athletes go on to represent Australia at various levels as they have continued their athletics careers in senior athletics, but they never forget where they first discovered the joy of athletics!

It is hoped this success will continue long into the future.


Athletics for Tiny Tots through to Masters