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Community rallies as footy hit hard

Saturday, 18th April, 2020

Steve Quinn is volunteering his time at the headquarters of Broken Hill football. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt Steve Quinn is volunteering his time at the headquarters of Broken Hill football. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

As with most community groups, AFL Broken Hill is feeling the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The competition has been put on hold pending advice from the AFL whether a reduced season is possible or whether 2020 will see a year of no football in Broken Hill.

“It is a unique landscape we find ourselves in,” AFL BH Chairman Andrew Schmidt said.

“We have had a competition every year since the late 1800s, even during both the first and second World Wars we had a football season.”

The prospect of a shortened season or even a year with no football has placed AFL Broken Hill in a precarious financial position as the Board also acts as Trustees of Jubilee Oval.

The Crown Reserve facility is maintained by the Board, which is responsible for the overall up-keep ,including paying for water, power and general maintenance.

The income generated by the football season is over 95 percent of the total income stream and with the possibility of no games being played it places a huge financial strain on the administration body.

“We have had to make some tough calls and stand our paid staff down, we have then drawn up a budget based on no income which shows a deficit for 2020 of $80,000,” Mr Schmidt said.

“The up-side though has been the support we have received from our volunteers and sponsors, it has been the shining light of the last month.

“We have people offering their services free of charge to make sure we still have an oval once we get past Covid-19,” Mr Schmidt said.

“Our maintenance team of Peter Johnston, Steve Quinn and Rod Garner have been fantastic as they do all they can on a voluntary basis to keep the Jube alive.”

The board has also sought corporate support as they aim to reduce the looming deficit and have been heartened by the initial reaction.

“We have been backed by our major sponsor the Credit Union who have put their full weight and resources behind us. They are so passionate about the local community and are determined to see AFL emerge on the other side of the virus in a healthy position,” Mr Schmidt said.

“They have been our rock for so many years and we cannot thank Andrew Pellizzer and his team enough.”

The board has written to a number of people and organisations including state and federal members, the AFL, Crown Lands and major business that are still operating.

An agreement has been reached with Essential Water who will allow the board to hibernate their pending accounts. They will not seek payment of accounts until income once again starts to flow.

“This is significant,” Mr Schmidt said.

“Our first quarter water bill for 2020 was almost $14,000 and water represents a large chunk of our expenditure budget.

“The offer by Essential Water is one we gratefully accepted.”

The other major support lifeline has been extended by Foundation Broken Hill who has agreed to provide a $10,000 grant to the AFL.

The money will be used to meet the operating costs of Jubilee Oval.

“They have just been so professional to deal with,” Mr Schmidt said.

“As a group of like-minded people they are so committed to improving the well-being of our community and they understand the vital role we play in providing an avenue for young people to participate in sport and having a quality venue where they can do so.

“The work of this group of people is unsurpassed in Broken Hill and when we approached them with our submission and a rather ordinary budget outlook they did not hesitate to assist us.”

Foundation Chair Vince Gauci said the AFL submission received support from the Foundation Board because of its valuable contribution to the health and well-being of the local community and because of the potential to return to attracting visitors to Broken Hill.

“This oval is a local icon, but it does more than that. By providing a quality complex for visiting teams to compete, it supports the city’s tourism industry - which is going to be a big part of Broken Hill’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

A decision on whether a season will be played in Broken Hill this year will be determined at the highest level.

“This is not a local decision as all leagues in the country are governed by the AFL Commission, once they decide we can then move,” Mr Schmidt said.

The AFL Commission is expected to make an announcement within the next two weeks.

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