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Tuesday, 4th October, 2011

SPORTING CHANCE: Bankstown Sports Club President John Murray wants the Sister City Exchange to continue for many years. SPORTING CHANCE: Bankstown Sports Club President John Murray wants the Sister City Exchange to continue for many years.

By John Casey

BH has been challenged to “raise the bar” and ensure that significant funding for the Sister City Exchange with Bankstown continues in the future.

The Bankstown Sports Club, which has poured more than half-a-million dollars into the long-standing event, is concerned by the reduced sports component at last week’s 25th annual exchange in BH.

“We are more than happy to continue our sponsorship but what level we provide will be governed by the input from the people of Broken Hill,” Bankstown Sports Club (BSC) President John Murray told the BDT.

“We have been involved as sponsors since the first year and have contributed as much as $32,000 per annum, but we only committed $10,000 to last week’s event.

“Anytime we contribute funds outside of our local area the club members are entitled to know the details and for us to put more money into the exchange we need to be able to show why,” Mr Murray continued.

Far from looking to withdraw their support, the BSC wants to energise the BH community to help stimulate the sporting component of the Sister City arrangement so more sponsorship dollars can be justified.

“The councils are talking about broadening the scope of the exchange and we fully support that, but this partnership was founded on a sporting affiliation and we need to make sure that is strengthened as well,” Mr Murray said.

“I am not being critical of the families and volunteers who have been involved in the past because they do a wonderful job - a tremendous amount of work - but we need to look at how we take this to the next level.”

Last week only 70 Bankstown school children travelled to the city for the sporting events which comprised cricket and netball. In past years as many as 11 different sports have been contested.

“We could have brought 250 children had there been enough families willing to host them and I’d like to see every Bankstown child who wants to sample the great Broken Hill experience get that chance.”

Mr Murray suggested that a community workshop be staged in either BH or Bankstown to kick-start the campaign.

“I invite the Broken Hill community to come to our club and see what we have to offer. I’m hoping a first-hand look would inspire people to get involved and see what can be achieved,” Mr Murray continued.

Formed in 1958 to foster local sport, the BSC is one of Sydney’s top 10 clubs and supports 72 schools in the district and 32 different sporting codes.

“When the Sister City Exchange began it was designed to give isolated children in Broken Hill the chance to enjoy sports competition against quality opposition,” Mr Murray explained.

“Our challenge now is to make the sports program more contemporary by including aspects such as leadership and team-building.

“Perhaps we need to target kids who are disadvantaged so they can see what great friendships and camaraderie can be achieved through sport,” Mr Murray added.





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