22 February 2024

Barellan Masters Games returns, celebrating Evonne Goolagong and Dawn Fraser's legacy

| Oliver Jacques
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Ian Goolagong on tennis court

Ian Goolagong, the only Indigenous man to ever play at Wimbledon, will feature at the Barellan Masters Games. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

An annual Riverina sporting tournament that has raised more than $180,000 for the local community will return after a two-year hiatus.

The Barellan Masters Games, which includes events in tennis, walking, netball, women’s basketball, cricket, lawn bowls and a triathlon for those aged over 35, will be staged this weekend on 24 and 25 February.

“To run on the tennis courts that Evonne Goolagong played on and to be in the pool where Dawn Fraser gave swim coaching lessons is a real thrill,” organiser Carl Chirgwin said.

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Former world number one tennis player Evonne Goolagong is the town’s most famous export. Newly laid tennis courts named in her honour were opened in 2021 and will host all the matches this weekend.

Her brother Ian will partner event organiser Louise Horney in the mixed doubles tennis event on Sunday. Mr Goolagong is the only Indigenous man ever to play at Wimbledon, where he teamed up with his sister to compete in the grand slam event in the early 1980s. He later worked as an elite coach for Tennis Australia.

Louise’s father and perennial champion Trevor, 80, will also play in the men’s doubles event with son Brad, proving age is no barrier to success.

Three players at Barellan Masters Games

Trevor, Louise and Brad Horney. Photo: Supplied.

Another Australian sporting icon, Olympian Dawn Fraser, spent several summers in Barellan, where she gave swimming lessons at the pool.

“I could hardly swim but I went to the pool just to see Dawn Fraser and to have her bark at me,” Mr Chirgwin said. “Our triathlon will commence at this pool on Sunday.”

The Murrumbidgee Regional High School teacher says it’s never too late to participate in any of the events.

“Everyone over 35 is welcome. You can pre-register by filling in the forms on our website or just come and pay on the day. We accept cash and card.

“The games are always special; the social aspect is as important as the sport, but once the white line fever hits everyone wants to get a medal.

“It’s about putting money into the small town of Barellan.”

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Each annual tournament raises around $15,000 for the local community.

“We have reinvested over $180,000 over the 12 years of the tournament,” Mr Chirgwin said.

“We’ve given money to help resurface courts and to the pool, but it’s not just the sporting facilities that can get the grant, it just has to be something that is going to improve the infrastructure of the town.

“Organisations can apply for the money we raise each year and can get a grant.

“Every little grant can be used to go to a big grant; a lot of the development we’ve seen has come from groups leveraging the Barellan Masters grant we’ve given them.”

The Barellan Masters Games were cancelled last year, due to planned resurfacing of the netball courts.

“You get to play on brand new courts this year,” Mr Chirgwin said.

To find out more about the Barellan Masters or to register for an event, visit their website.

Original Article published by Oliver Jacques on Region Riverina.

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