Bid a masterstroke

Circular Head Councillor Ashley Popowski, an active tennis player, is looking forward to pushing the best interests of the region as a representative on the Cradle Coast Authority’s Australian Masters Games Committee. Picture: Bodey Dittloff.

Proposal. Smithton-based Councillor Ashley Popowski is highly motivated for his newest role on the Australian Masters Games Committee for the Cradle Coast.

But as well as taking over from former councillor David Woodward in being a voice for the community, he is also willing to ‘walk the walk’.

“I’ve never been the champion sportsman, but I’ve been a champion of participation,” he said.

“I’ve always had a goal to run a marathon. Maybe this will give me the kick-along – they’d have to run it over two days!”

The Cradle Coast Authority has entered submissions for its councils to host either the 2017 or 2025 events, which draw over 10,000 competitors from Australia and abroad aged over 30 to compete in more than 50 individual and team sports.

Cr Popowski was unanimously nominated to the position at Circular Head Council’s monthly meeting last week, joining councillors from along the coast in meeting regularly for updates and discussion.

Having played a number of sports including cricket and football, also coaching at club level, the 65-year-old believes his latest opportunity is “another step up in community involvement”.

“I see this role as a leadership role for the community,” he said on Friday.

“There’s got to be social and economic benefits. I’ll be pushing for Circular Head: we are a sporting area therefore I feel we should be able to host a competition.

“I’m expecting one of the major sports, one of the high-participation sports. If we’re going to be in it, why can’t we hold a competition?”

An active sportsman since the founding of the Police Boys Club in the 1950s, Cr Popowski can now be found in the swimming pool doing laps of a morning, or with a tennis racquet in hand through the warmer months.

Highlighting the amount of sport played year-round by locals, he described the games as a great opportunity for the region to benefit from.

“Sport is sort of a glue that holds the community together, strengthens it,” he said.

“It’ll be something new. It will attract people, but it will [also] inspire people to see some of the performances.”

If either bid is successful, he believes one of the local associations could organise a sport, whether it was karting, hockey or darts.

The initial interest to host the event came from Devonport Mayor Steve Martin in 2009, with a steering committee formed the following year to focus on a bid.

With 2013 hosts Geelong now pulling out of the 2017 games, CCA executive officer Luke Sayer said preparations have been given a “kick-along” in the hope of a successful outcome.

“We’ve been putting a lot of work in, trying to get the state and federal government onboard – they’re the key to get us across the line,” he said.

“Part of the idea behind the games is that the areas that aren’t directly hosting the events will get some tourism benefits from it.”

Mr Sayer pointed to Smithton’s Bryant Park as a “great facility” known to go-kart drivers across the state, with Circular Head’s chances of accommodating some of the events “not beyond the realms of imagination”.
An update on the committee’s bid is expected to come in February next year.

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