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Matt makes time for passion

Wednesday, 24th May, 2017

Matthew Handberg Matthew Handberg

By Tyler Hannigan

IT’S often said that you’ll learn more about a person on a round a golf than you will from most of life’s other activities. 

It’s also how many a business deal has been done. There is a reason media magnate Kerry Packer built his own exclusive course. 

I’m planning to put that to the test with this column as I chat to Broken Hill’s sporting personalities over nine holes where I’ll delve into their sporting, business and personal lives to hopefully discover what makes them tick.

My first guest is the owner of Century 21 in Broken Hill, an A Grade cricketer and tennis player and a good mate, Matthew Handberg.

We kicked things off on the back nine so as to not disturb the competition players on the front and after an unspectacular start, we began to chat about when Matt took up the game of golf.

“I think it was around four years ago through one of the Outback Emus ambrose days, and it kicked on from there,” he said. 

“My mate Andrew Henry and I play cricket through the summer and were looking for something to do through winter. His body was breaking down at footy so we decided to give golf a go.

“It’s a great way to relax.

“I leave the phone in the car and can just switch off for a couple of hours.”

Switching off, Matt said, is important when it comes to balancing his work and personal life.

“I’m a big believer on making sure you’re present with whatever you’re doing at that time,” he said.

“I think it’s really easy to get distracted, especially if you own a business, to let those things be front of mind.

“To be a good sportsperson, for example, is so much harder if you’re not focused and it’s the same thing at home. I’d be a horrible husband if I’m answering the phone during dinner.”

As the round progressed we moved on to Matt’s first sporting love, cricket.

“Growing up in such a significant era of Australian cricket with Mark Taylor, the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne and others meant that it was easy to fall in love with the sport.

“But I think it was my mates that really got me into it. Growing up with Byron Harrington and Gareth Hinchey a few doors down, we were always playing cricket at school. 

“At Burke Ward it was before school and then at recess and lunchtime it was having a quick bite and then playing cricket until the bell went and it was time for class.”

Matt Handberg first debuted at senior level for his beloved West Cricket Club at the age of 14 and he has a perfect memory of that game, for better or worse.

“I was 14. It was at the Zinc against North. I batted at six and got out for zero.

“I think I’d faced maybe 10 balls and thought that this was pretty good and went to play one scoring shot and that was it.”

Matt was lucky to have learned from some of the best cricketers in town as he was growing up and playing for West.

“Patty (Paul Attard) was a big influence for sure,” he said.

“Steve Gibson as well and I really enjoyed playing cricket with Roycey Beck.

“Not only great cricketers but great blokes as well.”

Matt is plagued by the same problem that afflicts most amateur golfers; not enough golf. Despite this he can still hit the shots thanks to his great hand-eye coordination, something that is evident on the tennis court.

He’s played tennis since he was a junior but over the last few years has taken a much greater interest in the sport.  

“I think because I’ve improved and had some coaching from Nathan Crabb I’ve become more interested,” he said.

“I’ve been playing a couple of times a week, as well as getting coached, and it’s the people involved that makes it great.

“There’s such a range in ages that you don’t get from most sports. In cricket it’s generally from about 15 or 16 to about 35 but at tennis it’s more like 16 to 70 and everything in between, and tennis is played by all different people from all different walks of life.

“It’s a lifetime sport as Rob Schofield (25-time Broken Hill tennis champion) would say.”

While neither of our scores needs to be repeated here, Matt’s drive up the 18th fairway was the kind that brings out the tired cliche of ‘That’ll bring you back’. 

With a couple of solid pars our nine holes were done but I can’t wait to be back again to learn a little bit more about one of Broken Hill’s fascinating people.

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