Bendigo’s men’s and women’s water polo teams hope to rule the pool when the Victorian Country Championships comes to the Bendigo Aquatic Centre this weekend.
Bendigo hasn’t won a title since the mid-1990s and will have to overcome the might of the Ovens and Murray, Bairnsdale, Geelong, Albury and Wodonga teams to break its drought.
Eight men’s team will shoot for the title, with Bendigo boasting several quality additions to its squad which didn’t make the semi-finals last year.
“Paul McKenzie brings some experience, speed and skill to the team as a forward with a strong accurate shot,” Bendigo Water Polo Association president Bruce Pridham said.
“Jason Greene brings extensive water polo experience to the team and will fit-in in a support role.”
Pridham will come off the bench for Bendigo, which has a splash of youth and experience in the 13-player team.
“Ian Symons fronts up again for his 25th year of country championships, or around that,” Pridham said.
“He’s in good nick for an old bloke, he’s a utility. Ian’s 53 or 52 and he’s as fit as ever.
“There’s a real focus on youth this year in the Bendigo team with Tim Carew, Nick Swan, David Symons and Dan Carew sure to make their presence felt in the pool.
“It’s expected the Ovens and Murray will dominate the weekend. The Wodonga Pool Pirates are looking to reclaim the title after dropping to Northside in 2012.”
Four women’s teams will compete for the title, with Bendigo’s women in training since December.
“The Bendigo women’s team is looking strong, again with a focus on youth,” Pridham said.
“Lily Pridham is hoping for a good tournament after state representation in the under-14s last month.
“We’ve also got the Reade sisters returning to Bendigo after Camille had a stint in Sydney first grade and represented the Australian Defence Forces in the Australian Championships.
“Her sister Jacinta is also back. There’s a number of Bendigo juniors playing their first year in the senior competition – Laura McCulloch, Keely Scarce, Hannah Dobell and Olivia Arandt.
Bendigo are hoping for a top-two place, but the (Albury) Sharks are current water polo championships and will be hard to beat.”
Teams will play four games, with the top-two teams after the rounds playing-off in the final.
“The Aquatic Centre is still open to the public, we welcome people to come down and view the sport at this high level,” Pridham said.
“There’s a number of Victorian and Australian players in action across the weekend.”
Bendigo was made host of Saturday and Sunday’s championships in December after the Wodonga pool wasn’t ready in time.
Bendigo last hosted the championships in 2011 and more than 200 players are expected to be in action this weekend. Matches begin at 8.30am on Saturday, with the last game to finish about 3.30pm on Sunday.
Amelia Marshall and Mairaed Dullard.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.
A REGIONAL civic leader has welcomed news the State Government will employ an industry advocate to ensure work from major government projects flows to local contractors.
Grant District Council chief executive officer Trevor Smart – whose council pushed for local contractors to benefit from the $23m Mount Gambier Prison expansion – said opportunities should be given to contractors from the region given the downturn in some sections of the economy.
His comments come as the State Government undertakes a cluster of new major projects in the Mount Gambier area, including the $27m redevelopment of the Mount Gambier Hospital and the $3.5m new ambulance station.
Mr Smart yesterday described the government announcement as positive given the multi-million-dollar new government projects underway in Mount Gambier.
He said nearly 60pc of the work at the Mount Gambier Prison had been undertaken by local contractors and the trend should continue for other government projects.
“We are still to get the final figure for the Mount Gambier Prison expansion, but that is a great outcome,” Mr Smart said.
He said there had been a major push from regional areas to ensure local communities benefited economically from major government projects.
South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said the move was a response to an increase in the value of contracts being awarded to interstate companies at the expense of local businesses.
“Investing in good, well-paid, secure jobs for South Australians is at the heart of our economic policy,” Mr Weatherill said.
“We want to ensure that South Australia achieves the maximum economic benefit from the $3.8b of contracts let annually by the State Government and that local companies are given every opportunity to win these contracts.”
He said the industry participation advocate would review the impediments companies faced and work with South Australian business and industry associations to increase the number of companies able to meet tender requirements.
Mr Weatherill said the advocate would also work with the procurement board to ensure its policies and practices were not disadvantaging local business.
“The role also will involve liaising with the Commonwealth and other state governments to investigate changes to national and state procurement procedures that reduce impediments local businesses face in winning tenders interstate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manufacturing, Innovation and Trade Minister Tom Kenyon said the move aimed to strengthen requirements for proponents of major projects to provide full, fair and reasonable opportunities for suppliers to compete for work.
Primary Industries and Regions SA chief executive Ian Nightingale has been appointed to the new position.
“Mr Nightingale brings a wealth of experience to this key position through his senior position with PIRSA and as inaugural chief executive of the Department of Planning and Local Government, where he led the reforms of the state’s planning system,” Mr Kenyon said.
“We’re seeing a period of unprecedented opportunity in South Australia with the State Government investing more than $9b in capital projects over the next four years.”
The advocate will work closely and consult with business, industry, government departments, employer representative groups and unions
MAJOR SPIN-OFFS: Grant District Mayor Richard Sage stands in front of the new cell block at the Mount Gambier Prison. Around 60pc of contract work for the $23m expansion has flowed to South East companies. Picture: ANELIA BLACKIE
RISING Jet Josh Brillante knows the defensive midfield role vacated by ex-captain Jobe Wheelhouse must be earned.
Filling in during Wheelhouse’s injury woes and fellow midfield marshal Ruben Zadkovich’s suspensions, Brillante has started 10 of his 14 games for the Jets since leaving Gold Coast United.
Wheelhouse’s departure from the club last week handed Brillante his first appearance as a first-choice midfielder in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sydney.
‘‘It’s a good opportunity for me to play in the midfield and try and do well for the team and hopefully make a mark in the finals,’’ Brillante told the Newcastle Herald.
But the recruitment of the experienced Zenon Caravella from Adelaide and with youngsters Jacob Pepper and Mitch Oxborrow desperate for an opportunity, the Bundaberg product knows he must keep performing.
Asked if Wheelhouse’s departure made him feel more secure in the side, Brillante said: ‘‘I don’t think it’s like that at all.
‘‘I’ve still got to work hard as there’s other boys who play in the midfield that are doing well at the moment, so I just want to concentrate hard and play well and keep earning my spot.’’
Brillante and his teammates struggled at times on Saturday to deal with the craft of Alessandro Del Piero.
Playing out from the back also proved problematic.
The Sky Blues’ goals came directly from Jets turnovers in their own half.
‘‘It wasn’t the best game and the weather made it difficult for us, but we’ll take the one point and look forward to the future and next week’s game,’’ Brillante said.
‘‘We want to try and play our game and play out from the back, so sometimes that’s going to happen.
‘‘It was raining and wet and then it went sunny and then starting raining again, so it made it very difficult.’’
WORKHORSE: Josh Brillante knows he cannot rest on his laurels. Picture: Simone De Peak
DETAILS of the State Government’s research initiative to drive new high-value products for the $1b regional timber industry were unveiled late yesterday to civic leaders and revealed possible opportunities for the South East, such as biodiesel and green chemical production.
Elected members from across the region gathered for the briefing at the Main Corner in Mount Gambier to learn details of the study being undertaken by researchers from Finland.
The VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is a world leader in translating wood fibre research into tangible business opportunities.
The centre is also globally connected to major international cellulose fibre players and investors.
While details of the study were not announced until late yesterday, it is understood green energy and biochemicals were among the opportunities being explored.
Other opportunities include sophisticated modules for the construction sector, along with bioplastics.
The initiative – driven by the State Government – follows one of the most turbulent chapters in the South East timber industry, with job losses across the sector.
With the region’s timber industry reliant on the cyclical housing structural timber market, it is hoped the research will kickstart new value adding for the region’s sprawling plantation estate.
Professor Goran Roos, from the state’s Advanced Manufacturing Council, said the timber industry could no longer survive in the long-term by undertaking low value-adding activities and needed to explore higher-valued products.
He said the study aimed to provide timber firms with information and knowledge so they could make decisions about their future.
Prof Roos said the team working on the study had already visited around 25 timber firms across the region.
While explaining not all firms had come on board, he said the team had been able to “talk through the issues” with many participating companies.
Prof Roos said there were many opportunities possible for the region’s timber sector, particularly biodiesel, because of the region’s large plantation base.
Meanwhile, Regional Development Australia Limestone Coast chief executive officer Mike Ryan said the research initiative was a key action identified from the economic forum held in Mount Gambier last year.
He said the project was also a need identified in the Limestone Coast Economic Diversification report.
“It is something the RDA is very pleased and happy with,” Mr Ryan said.
He said it was critical the regional timber sector tapped into new opportunities.
“We can’t keep on with what we have been doing,” Mr Ryan said.
“We need new value-adding opportunities to set the timber industry up for the future.”
Mr Ryan said staff from the Finnish research centre had been liaising with regional businesses on the initiative.
Key speakers at yesterday’s briefing included Prof Roos, and Dr John Kettle, from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
The Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy is providing project support for the study.
It is understood regional timber industry leaders have already been briefed on the study.
EXPERTS: Scientist Toni Ahlquist and international business development manager Dr John Kettle, both from the research centre in Finland, stand behind Professor Goran Roos outside the Main Corner before yesterday’s key meeting with civic leaders. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO
Bendigo beach volleyballer Saran O’Connor is steeling herself for a big step-up in competition when she takes on some of Australia’s best female players this weekend.
The 19-year-old and team-mate Marta Slawuta – a former Polish national indoor player – have been accepted into the 24-team field for round four of the Renault National Beach Volleyball Series at St Kilda Beach.
“It’s very exciting,” O’Connor said of her series debut.
“I was a bit concerned our entry wouldn’t get accepted because St Kilda’s round is the most popular on the national tour – everyone wants to come and play in Melbourne.
“It clashes with St Kilda Festival, so there’s always heaps of people around, a great atmosphere and vibe, so it’s just been the favourite for athletes to compete at.
“The national tour beach series in Australia is the qualifying for our top elite teams for the world tour, it’s got some very, very solid players on it.
“Ultimately we would love to get through to the top 16. We’ve got pool matches on Friday and from that the top 16 go through to Saturday and play elimination.
“We’d love to at least win one of our pool matches and be competitive in the other one to push us through to the top 16.”
O’Connor and Slawuta have only been playing together for a month and will face some battle-hardened teams on Friday.
For O’Connor, who only switched to the beach from indoor volleyball 12 months ago, it’s another chance to learn from top-quality opposition.
“I’ll be learning from how the more experienced players play, learning their different styles of game and mentality on the court,” she said.
“It’s a mental game, it’s a matter of how much do you want it, how much are you going to work for it and how well do you cope with the pressure.”
Last month, O’Connor partnered with Geelong’s Laura Wallace to finish fifth in the under-23s division at the junior nationals at South Melbourne Beach.
“We had a really solid week, had ups and downs but ultimately we were really, really happy with our results,” O’Connor said.
“We beat two out of the three other Victorian teams during our round robin matches, so that was really positive.”
O’Connor is waiting to hear if she has a partner in order to compete at the next round of the national beach series in South Australia next weekend.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.