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Sporty Forty!

The Little Athletics motto – Family, Fun, Fitness - is at the heart of a club and organisation that brings sport and a love of athleticism to everyone.

by Rebecca Mugridge

Australians love their sport, but often we fall short of participating for long, possibly because as children we lost interest if we weren’t one of the top. 

Little Athletics or ‘little As’ as it is affectionately known strives to be different and make sport truly about everyone. Through promoting ‘personal bests’ as well as chances to represent the club, kids are rewarded when they strive and achieve progress on their path. They are inspired by their own merit. 

And that is just what Nambour Little A’s does. Inspire.

“Forty years ago, in December of 1983 a meeting was held with an expression of interest for starting up a Little Athletics club in Nambour,” says original committee member, Keffed Cordwell.

Keffed is well placed, as their longest member, to compile this Little Athletics information and history on the club for their 40-year celebration. 

“The meeting was chaired by Alison Quirke, who at that time was the Centre Manager of Maroochy Little Athletics club.  It was a well-attended meeting and the club formed with a very enthusiastic committee being elected. After a discussion with Nambour State School, we were able to compete on the school grounds. Equipment was borrowed from the school until we could purchase our own,” shared Keffed.

“Each week the equipment had to be stored at one of the parents’ houses as there was no room at the school. As the numbers grew, we had to find another venue. In 1986 Robert Garvie was elected Centre Manager and set about finding another suitable ground.”

This saw a move to the PCYC grounds, but it was still a great deal of work by the volunteers.

“Many weekends were spent by a handful of dedicated parents to make the track what it is today. We pride ourselves on being family-orientated.

“Saturday mornings would see the tables set up under the trees. This was our office for the day. From time to time we would receive a visit from the local carpet snake who would lay around in the tree above and watch proceedings!”

Back in the beginning, a few things were different too. “The kids never used to wear shoes,” says Keffed with a laugh, showing a photo of barefoot athletes in 1988.

“When we started there was no ruling about wearing shoes and then, over time, rules came in that everyone had to wear shoes. No ifs, buts or maybes.”

The club has a long history of fundraising and sponsorship, at that time there were raffles and a stall at the Sunshine Coast Show selling hamburgers and cups of tea. The club also once bagged up the mill mud from the sugar mill.

Through fundraising, they were able to purchase a dedicated shed in 1993. According to Keffed, to save costs, “it had to be dismantled and re-erected at the PCYC. This was an enormous task for the parents and at the time many weekends were spent working on the Club House.”

Recent fundraising for the club with an auction saw enormous generosity from so many Nambour businesses, showcasing the generous hearts that run through this town.

The Nambour Little A’s aren’t just a well-loved family club, they have also had plenty of success over the years.

“The club has hosted many successful Zone Carnivals, covering an area from Gladstone to Glass House Mountains. A number of our athletes have also gone on to represent Queensland at National Titles.”

Keffed says at the heart of the club are the families and volunteer parents who make it the warm and closely-bonded organisation it is today. The shared love for sports, inclusion and celebrating everyone is deep in the club culture.

You don’t have to be the best jumper or fastest runner to enjoy being part of the club, it’s for everyone, according to Keffed.

“Once a year we also hold a carnival for disabled members of our community. The best reward is seeing the eagerness of the competitors and the excitement of their faces after competing in the events.” 

A fond memory that was a highlight for many of the parents used to be the ‘creek run’. “We would rope out a course in the creek [behind the PCYC grounds], parents with buckets on each side and kids in the middle.” 

Another club core memory happened one rainy day. “During one of our morning meets it started to rain. The starter at the time placed the starting gun down his shorts to stay dry [as he was out in the rain].

“It went off. He was very pale for a while!”

Keffed and his wife Glenda have been a massive part of the Nambour Little A’s club, their children have gone through the club and so have the grandchildren. He proudly shows a book put together by the club for his granddaughter at the end of her Little A’s journey. Something the club does often.

“It’s all about them,” Keffed smiles, “it’s all about the kids.”

And 40 years later, Nambour-born Keffed is still an integral and loved part of the Nambour Little Athletics.

“A lot of people say, ‘How come you’re still at it?’, and I say, I just enjoy it.”


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