The heritage-listed Canberra Croquet Club, perhaps the oldest sporting club in the ACT, has received a $ 410,000 Sport and Recreation Grant from the ACT Government to extend its clubhouse, including building a women’s toilet – which the former women’s only club lacks.
The Croquet Club was founded in 1928, at the Hyatt Hotel, and the clubhouse was opened in 1933. The original members were women, and it remained a women’s only club until 1976.
“We’re very grateful for the grant,” said club president Greg Diprose. “It will help enormously. [The clubhouse] attracts a lot of people from all over Canberra wanting to come and have parties and hire facilities, and it would be really nice to have a decent toilet to offer our visitors! “
The new building will also have disabled access.
“That’s very important,” Mr Diprose said. “You can play croquet in a wheelchair or on a walker, and we have a few [members with disabilities]. “
The bigger clubhouse will make a tremendous difference when interstate visitors arrive, bringing their croquet gear with them, Mr Diprose continued.
“We need storage space; when people come to hire these facilities, we have to drag out things from sheds all over the place in order to accommodate everyone. “
The announcement was timed as part of the ACT’s Heritage Festival, noted Yvette Berry, ACT Minister for Sport and Recreation.
“The planned improvements will allow the club to continue to support participation in the historic sport, and hopefully host state and national activities in the future,” Ms Berry said.
The croquet club’s Sport and Recreation Grant is almost twice as large as the next biggest grant ($ 250,000 for the Tuggeranong Valley Rugby Union and Sports Club).
That, Ms Berry said, was because the club must meet the stringent requirements of the National Capital Authority and the ACT Heritage Council, including special materials. To repair the roof after January 2020’s hailstorm, for instance, they needed to source slate tiles.
“Because it’s heritage listed, it has to look right, it has to be approved,” Mr Diprose said.
Work will begin at once, and the extension should be finished later this year.
Today, the club has 120 members, ranging from 16 to 90, and membership is close to capacity, Mr Diprose said.
“It’s a very good social club. It attracts a lot of people in retirement, but it also appeals to young people. “
Three different mallet sports are played at the Canberra Croquet Club: association croquet, golf croquet, and gateball (a Japanese version of croquet).
“The object of the game is simply to hit a ball through a hoop – but there’s a lot more to it than that!” Mr Diprose said. “I’ve been playing for 40 years, and I’m still learning – but it has a broad appeal.
“It’s a sport that can be played by everybody, men and women equally. We have a handicap system – rather parallel with golf handicaps – where beginners and experienced people can play on a relatively equal plane. “
The club has a high standard, Mr Diprose noted. Its competitors have represented Australia internationally, or the ACT in state competitions. Recently, the club won three pennants in NSW competitions. One member, Robert Fletcher, is the number one player in the world.
Mr Diprose wants to expand the sport to Belconnen and Watson.
“We’re looking at other opportunities where there’s vacant land around Canberra, because the demand is very high,” he said.
For a full list of grant recipients, visit the Sport and recreation website.
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