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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14770


Mr MITCHELL (McEwenSecond Deputy Speaker) (09:30): For many of us, sporting clubs and recreational activities are the centre of our social lives. This is especially the case for young people. Some of these young people are lucky that they identify which sports are for them from a younger age and then really strive for excellence in their field. This is the case for one young man from Craigieburn, Jack Bowen. I first met Jack back in 2014 when I awarded him a Local Sporting Champions grant of $500. At that time, Jack had already been training for five years, having started to box when he was just 11 years old. I watched him train and I could see the fire in him that drives him to win.

I met up with Jack and his mum, Michelle, last week at his graduation from Mount Ridley College. Michelle is intensely proud of her son and she told me what Jack has achieved since receiving the local sporting grant. She said, 'The grant went towards helping him achieve one of his dreams.' In April, he went to Queensland and competed in the Australian boxing titles and won the 52-kilo youth gold medal. Following that competition, he was selected to compete for the Australian team at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa. He left in August to train at the Australian Institute of Sport for two weeks before flying to Samoa in September. It was his first international competition. Jack won a gold medal in the 52-kilo division in the Commonwealth Youth Games in what they reported was the upset of the games because he easily beat the Asian youth champion from India. Last week, he won the Leader junior sport star of the year award for the second year in a row and took out the overall junior sports star of the year award as well on the same night. He is training hard to be selected for the youth world titles for Australia next year in November. That is a great update, and I am proud of what Jack has achieved in such a short time. Jack is keeping his eye on the prize and he is looking forward to the Commonwealth Games at the Gold Coast. This fine young athlete will be a name to watch in 2018, so put your money on it. I am sure of it.

But successful kids like Jack do not do things on their own. They have supportive teams around them including family, coaches and peers. I am sure that Jack has expressed his thanks to these people in the roles they play—the mentors, coaches, sounding boards and cheer squads—for the support that is always in his corner. I would like to take the opportunity this morning to express my thanks to the unsung heroes in communities—volunteer coaches, managers, administrators and officials, as well as the parents and volunteers who do anything to assist their club like turning sausages at barbecues, canteen duty or bringing on the oranges at halftime. Without volunteers, our community sports and recreation organisations would not function.

A number of junior sporting groups out there are doing it tough as they are competing directly against each other for participants, volunteers, funds and grants. I encourage all local businesses to consider sponsoring youth junior sports clubs and organisations and working with them to help make young individuals or teams reach their goals and achieve their dreams as Jack has been able to do.

The Local Sporting Champions grant, funded by the Australian Sports Commission, is one of the ways that the government is involved in this space. Applications are open until 29 February 2016. I encourage all young kids in my electorate to get on board and put in an application for Local Sporting Champions grants.