THE Orange Emus brand has been synonymous with rugby union for as long as Gilbert balls have been kicked in Orange.
But, by next summer, all that’s about the change.
Member for Orange Andrew Gee and deputy premier of NSW and minister for regional infrastructure and services Andrew Stoner yesterday announced the Orange Emus club has been granted $23,000 in funding for upgrades to Endeavour Oval.
One of the oldest rugby clubs in the region, the money, oddly, will be used to construct cricket nets.
Speaking on Tuesday at Endeavour Oval, Stoner summed up the reasoning for the funding, one of five grants successfully gained under the 2013-14 sport and recreation participation and facility grants from the Orange electorate, with a straight bat.
“I just love backing sports in country NSW,” Stoner said.
“I don’t think there’s a better dollar spent out of government, frankly, than supporting sports.
“People who play sports are healthier, so they’re less drain on the system in terms of hospital attendance, doctors attendance and so on. But also, the whole community can enjoy sport, from any age, there’s a sport for everyone.
“Our government really wants to encourage that participation level and by working with volunteers like the committee here at Emus we can deliver on the ground into every community.
“It’s a thrill to see $23,000 going towards the year-round use of the ground like we have here.”
Expecting work on the two synthetic nets to begin in the next month with the view of being complete by the beginning of the 2014-15 cricket season, Orange Emus Junior Rugby Club president Geoff Potts was thrilled with the news.
Potts believes cricket participation levels will grow as a result of the construction of the nets.
“We saw a benefit to increase junior cricket levels in Orange,” Potts, also involved with the Orange District Junior Cricket Association, said.
“We have seen the decline in numbers over the last couple of years.
“We saw this as a way of getting some transition from rugby to cricket and enhancing the numbers for both.”
Potts said at this stage there was no clear indication on numbers ahead of the junior and senior ODCA seasons, but was confident of Emus transitioning into the city’s cricket competitions “step by step”.
“I think Orange cricket would love for us to have teams in all junior grades and senior grades, but realistically we’ll be building year to year,” Potts said.
“We’ve got a great facility here at Emus and I think utilising it in the summer months ... overall it’s about participation levels for kids in sport. That’s what we’re trying to promote.”