FORMER Fremantle councillor Tim Grey-Smith has taken over the reins of the North Fremantle bowling club with plans to breathe it back to life.
The club has been limping along and in debt for the past couple of years, but the thought of yet another community organisation toppling spurred Mr Grey-Smith to take on the position. “Frankly, if I hadn’t taken this on, it would have fallen over,” he told the Herald.
The ex-restaurateur became involved earlier in the year after former president Rob Fittock, a city councillor who’d served on council with Mr Grey-Smith, asked him to spend a few hours a week working at the club.
But after looking at the books Mr Grey-Smith decided it couldn’t afford him, so he switched to volunteering. Last month he took on the presidency but says he really only wants to stay long enough to get it financially sustainable before handing it over to someone more local (he lives in the inner-city).
“People want it to be family-friendly, somewhere they can come down for an afternoon drink and the kids can play in the park,” he says of his plans for the club. He wants to broaden the types of games played on the green, saying Australia lags a bit in the creativity stakes compared to other countries who’ll happily drag out the quoits, badminton or a croquet set.
He’d also like to see a second rink, which hasn’t been used for 10 years, transformed into a community garden. He says it will be a quiet addition that’s unlikely to ruffle the feathers of neighbours who’ve arced up about other activities in the past.
Mr Grey-Smith says he’s taking a self-sustaining approach, which many of Freo’s new breed of organisations, such as Dismantle or the Fremantle Foundation, have already adopted. “You can’t rely on funding, that’s the reality,” he says, adding local organisations need to wean themselves off the government drip and work on strategic plans to keep going.
Mr Grey-Smith says an issue local clubs face is a lack of a generational change, which has led to dwindling numbers: it was North Freo’s willingness to tackle that which convinced him to take on the job.
by STEVE GRANT