BOLD plans for a Ballarat sporting museum are growing to a renewed focus on the city's decorated national and international contenders.
Those on the steering committee say this is very much in development stages but, if designed well, could become an important tourist destination in Ballarat - thanks to the city's rich history of athletes making their mark on major sporting fields.
The museum started as an idea from East Point Football Netball Club's memorial committee, primarily to preserve and keep alive the rich history of the club's founding arms, Golden Point and East Ballarat, at Eastern Oval. The more the committee explored what was possible, the more it started to think bigger in a bid to find what was best for the community and to ensure the museum would draw visitors.
Former City of Ballarat mayor John Burt, a proud Redan, has joined the committee to help guide plans to the next level.
There is the education aspect of the museum. It's incredible what kids can learn from the past. We all can benefit.John Burt
Mr Burt said there were groups keeping Ballarat's sporting achievements alive but there was no central focal point. He said the deaths of two Ballarat Olympians the past six months, John Vernon and Graham Crouch, hit the city's sporting circles hard. Both men were passionate about supporting the pursuits of Ballarat's sportspeople and sharing their experience.
Mr Burt said it was not only the untapped sporting memorabilia this city could share but the legacies that were important.
"This is really only the tip of the iceberg...Ballarat's got an extraordinary sporting history when you go back," Mr Burt said.
"In today's world, there is a particular emphasis on female involved in international and national sport. Ballarat's got a lot of decorated sportswomen - just look at women like (Olympian and former Australian Opals' captain) Robyn Gull (Maher). Many young kids might not have even heard of her.
"...There is the education aspect of the museum. It's incredible what kids can learn from the past. We all can benefit."
Founding Ballarat Sportsmen's Club member Brian Nunn has been instrumental in preserving important sporting memorabilia from across the region with The Gold Museum.
Ballarat Olympians allows those who have represented the nation at the highest level a chance to keep in touch. Ballarat Sports Foundation supports the region's athletes in reaching the highest levels they could in their game.
Mr Burt said it would be great to bring this altogether to share with the city's modern stories. For example, Olympic racewalker Jared Tallent who was promoted to the London 2012 gold medal after the winning Russian was found guilty of drug cheating four years later. There is also Commonwealth Games javelin gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell and 2015 Melbourne Cup winning jockey Michelle Payne.
Football remains very much a part of the museum concept plans.
East Point FNC memorial committee member Michael Walsh said in looking at football, this opened up to the club's homeground history. Eastern Oval has had at least 20 tenants including forgotten matches of skittles in a dedicated hall by the grandstand; lawn tennis in the south-west corner; hot air ballooning; cycling; military displays.
More than 12,000 fans packed Eastern Oval for a 1992 World Cup cricket match between England and Sri Lanka. One of cricket's all-time greats, Englishman WG Grace, planted what is now the large tree next to the grand stand in the 1870s.
Looking bigger again, the committee found a documented 82 sports activities Ballarat males and females had played.
"From the memories of past East ballarat players and past Golden Point players has grown a group of fellas working on an expanding charter for all Ballarat sports. We need to recognise these achievements," Mr Walsh said.
"We're conscious for the generations following us, many don't want to volunteer or have the time to volunteer, and a lot of the great sporting memorabilia in our cupboards will be lost. That's our biggest worry. We thought, if we really put our heads together, this could be a tourist site too."
We're conscious for the generations following us a lot of the great sporting memorabilia in our cupboards will be lost. That's our biggest worry.Michael Walsh, East Point Football Netball Club memorial committee
The committee has already collected 800 articles from its club's football and netball past. Mr Walsh could hardly imagine what this could be if open to the city's other football clubs, let alone other sports.
Early designs for the museum reflect the Eastern Oval's grandstand in a likely redevelopment for the football club social rooms.
Golden Point and East Ballarat footballers and netballers are encouraged to contact club historian Max Smith, who is working to collate a player database. Email Mr Smith on email@example.com.
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