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Monday, 28 October 1996
Page: 5963

Ms ELLIS(10.45 p.m.) —This evening I take the opportunity to talk about the sort of commitment that parents and volunteers make within many an electorate around this country but particularly in my electorate of Namadgi. When I say that, I am talking especially about the participation rate in winter sports within my community of Namadgi.

I am fortunate to be involved in a number of clubs, particularly junior ones in the area. Without the volunteer work of the parents and other people who attach themselves to these clubs, I am sure we would not see the success rate that we do. My electorate has one of the highest participation rates in sporting activity that you would see in the country for the age group that I am talking about.

Tonight I want to particularly refer to my association—although I have many associations with many clubs—with the Tuggeranong Junior Bulldogs Club, of which I happen to be patron. This club represents a very large number of junior Aussie rules footballers in the electorate and has a participation rate that demands of the organisers, all of whom are volunteers, a huge commitment. The result of the commitment from those people can be seen in the success of the club and in the delight that the young people have in their participation in their sport.

There is one particular young man in that club that I would like to give a special mention to tonight. His name is Steve Hall. He has been in the Tuggeranong Junior Bulldogs junior sides since the under-8s. His early years with the club included selection in a number of ACT development squads and the captaincy of his own club side.

Back in March of 1995, Steve was unfortunately diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. This in fact happened just four days before he was to enjoy his first experience with the ACT in the under-15s squad. Throughout 1995 he underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He was too sick to play at all last season, undergoing several long periods in hospital with serious infection as a result of that treatment. Steve worked very hard on his fitness over last summer and set his sights this year on playing for the Bulldogs under-17s and training with the ACT under-16 national schoolboys squad, both of which goals he achieved.

The two things that are noteworthy here are that, first of all, he could not have done this without his own determination, his own love of the game and his own commitment to the other young people with whom he plays the game. Secondly, his father especially and his family really supported Steve to the hilt and gave him every encouragement to continue through that difficult time.

I was fortunate enough as patron of the club to be invited last month to the annual presentation night. One of the most joyous things that I could have done that evening was present Steve with a Youth Football Achievement Award, which was given to him at the club by the club for his example of commitment, let alone skill, displayed in the sport. It is obvious that Steve has a great affection for the game, but it is also obvious that he is very good at it. He receives a lot of admiration from his fellow young people, and it is a delight to see the reaction of the under-8s, the under-9s and the under-10s who pay attention to the kids who are senior to them who have come through similar ranks.

I have no doubt, having met Steve and having met his family briefly and having talked to people within that club, that this young man can probably achieve anything he wishes to in his lifetime. His achievement, along with the performances of the former Tuggeranong ACTAFL players Aaron Hamill and Justin Blumfield, who have now got to AFL level, provides tremendous encouragement for the other young sporting people, but particularly sporting footballers, in the Tuggeranong valley. At that presentation night, when a trophy and a shield went out to a couple of under-8s, they saw the name of Aaron Hamill, who had done his junior football through the same club and is now playing first-grade AFL. The look on their faces when they saw what they could achieve from their Tuggeranong urban area and the sort of reaction that those young players have to someone like Steve Hall, I can only say, augurs very well for the future of sport development in our electorate. In conclusion, I congratulate Steve and his family on the hardship that they have come through with flying colours. With the club, I very joyously wish them all the success for the future.