Lighthouse clubs – Alphington embraces change
For years, Alphington Bowls Club’s neighbours were the Yarra River, the Eastern Freeway, the parking lot that is the Chandler Highway and a giant paper mill.
But things are about to change.
There are new neighbours coming.
About 5,000 of them.
A looming redevelopment will turn the old Amcor paper mill into a giant village right next door to the bowls club.
Developments on this scale usually provoke a fight or flight response.
Alphington BC’s doing neither.
Instead it’s inviting all 5,000 neighbours to drop in, enjoy the hospitality, and have a roll.
“From a little club in survival mode to, well, here’s a new challenge, let’s get on board,” new Alphington chairman Mark Perry says.
“We’re embracing it. It’s going to generate positives and negatives I guess. But we’ve got to be involved in those discussions, and be brave boys and girls.”
Alphington BC doesn’t just think outside the square, it exists there.
Embracing the Amcor redevelopment, and providing a community hub for residents and business leaders to regularly meet with developers, has had a positive spinoff.
City of Yarra own the facilities of the club. For Alphington BC, early in the development will come expanded club rooms.
They’ll provide a much needed expanded community meeting place, allowing Alphington BC to remain the beating heart of the new community – just as it has been for the old one.
“What will happen with the bowls club is the developers and council have all agreed that one of the first infrastructure developments that will be done is that the club rooms and facilities will be redeveloped to become a bigger meeting place for a bigger population,” says Perry, who comes from a background in business planning and financial management .
“Council and developers see the value (in us). We don’t wait for others to come and help us. We do things ourselves. What we do as a club is try and make our own luck.”
Alphington is also a pioneer in the area of school and Access All Abilities bowls programs, and is big on social responsibility.
The club works with local schools to give youngsters a taste of the sport.
It runs regular AAA programs on a Thursday.
There’s barefoot bowls and barbecue nights.
There is much for Alphington BC, and the clever thinkers who run it, to be proud of with a club that has positioned itself so well for the future.
But Perry is proudest of the social responsibility and AAA focus his club has taken, and the wins on a personal level that they’ve brought.
“We’ve been dealing with Interact (disability service provider). The people who come down here are severely autistic, but we’ve made some real inroads with them.
“My pride and joy is a little guy called Glen, who’s in a wheelchair. I’ve taught him to send a little Jack Attack bowl down a timing ramp.
“Now he knows what to do. We high-five each other. We can’t communicate any other way. It’s the little stuff like that.”