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Gridiron club eyes off Docklands

31 Mar 2016

Gridiron club eyes off Docklands Image

By Ella Gibson

Robert Smith and Hayley Fleming, members of the Melbourne University Gridiron Club, have their sights set on Dockland’s Ron Barrassi Snr Park for their home ground.

It’s easy to see why they are so invested. The view, looking out over the harbour and the city spread out behind it, is breathtaking.

Mr Smith is the president of the club and the head coach for the under 19s, while Fleming is the secretary of the club, plays for the women’s team and helps manage the men’s club during the season.

The men’s senior team play in Parkville, however the women and the under 19s have nowhere to call home. Smith said that while traveling around for games isn’t new to them, it’s difficult to support a team with no home ground.

“When you have nowhere to call a home, you can’t get your family to come and support you if they have to drive to Bendigo or Melton. It’s a bit tough for them,” he said.

Mr Smith and Ms Fleming hope that the Ron Barrassi Snr Park may change all that.  The club is hoping to host clinics at the park to engage the community and trial the space. If all goes well, they aim to make the park the home ground of the women, men and the under 19 teams.

“I’m really excited to potentially be involved in Docklands. We’re trying to boost the community, and help with local businesses to try and get something happening,” Mr Smith said.  “There’s so much potential in this spot”

To Ms Fleming, the Docklands community is reminiscent of her hometown.

“We’re small town people so we loved how much it’s like where we grew up. Here we can be a part of local businesses, we can get sponsors and offer locals discounts and really be a part of the community and be involved,” she said.

Ms Fleming added that the club had changed their lives completely.

“We’re incredibly diverse as well. I’m hanging out with people from all walks of life. It’s absolutely brilliant, you meet amazing people and they do become your family,” she said.

Mr Smith said that it would ultimately be the community’s attitude that decided whether they go or stay.

“We don’t want to come in and just take over the place. We want to be part of the community. If we come in and we run a few clinics and we get good feedback, well then we’re moving further towards having this as a home ground. But if we run clinics and the community doesn’t want us, then we’ll move on,” he said.

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