Published: 26 Oct 2021
Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.
When it comes to community sport success stories, you’d be hard-pressed to find a club with a more interesting history than South Mildura Bulldogs Sporting Club (SMSC Bulldogs).
With a lineage that stretches back to 1945, the early members of the club relied on the ladies committee to get the through the initial hard times.
“The ladies committee were stealing footballs from a rival football club,” Club President Kevin Burke said.
“We had players that would go and train with an opposing football club, kick the footy over the shed, and the ladies would be waiting out in the street to collect footys so we had something to train with.”
“Not ideal,” he laughs, “but you did what you could to get by”.
Those humble beginnings are well behind the club now, as they close-out a 76-year tenure at Sarah Oval in central Mildura and prepare to move into the Mildura Sporting Precinct.
With stage one works recently completed and the much-anticipated stage two works on the horizon, Burke sees a bright future ahead for grassroots sport in Mildura.
“What the facility means for the club and sport in general in the community is fantastic.”
Until recently the club has been in the unenviable position of having to split junior football games across two locations, stretching resources and volunteers. Burke anticipates that having a centralised location will not only make life easier for current members but will also help the SMSC Bulldogs attract new talent.
Increasing participation in sport is a key priority for the Victorian Government, which has contributed $13.75 million towards stages one and two of the Mildura Sporting Precinct.
With works including indoor and outdoor facilities for a range of sports, the stage is set for the precinct to become the premier sporting hub for the Mallee, capable of hosting a range of regional sports as well as major sports competition including AFL and NBL preseason fixtures.
Importantly, the new multi-sport precinct ensures that local clubs like SMSC Bulldogs can expand their teams and take on more players. This means more opportunities for athletes and easier access to games for multi-sport families who will no longer be split between venues.
“All in all, the precinct is a huge benefit to grassroots sport in general.” Burke said.
“We can’t wait, it’s exciting times.”
Stage Two works at the Mildura Sporting Precinct are due for completion in 2023.
Project funding partners
Hero banner: Mildura Sporting Precinct, Photo Credit: Mildura Rural City Council