Milestone dinner celebrates track record

Talented sports people from Shellharbour City are invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of an organisation that supported the start of many international careers.

Shellharbour City Council established the Shellharbour City Sports Assistance Fund (SCSAF) fund in 1973, under the leadership of then Mayor John O'Dwyer.

"This fund was the first of its kind in Australia and still maintains its original objective - to provide financial support to Shellharbour's aspiring athletes, many of whom would not be able to attend international and national titles without its support," Mayor Marianne Saliba said.

The fund will host its 40th Anniversary Sports Award Dinner on March 21, with many former recipients who have gone on to represent at the highest level attending.

Olympic gold medallist and Warilla local David Smith is one of many sports people to benefit from SCSAF funding.

Three-time Olympian Glen Saville will be guest speaker, with NRL stars Beau Ryan and Trent Merrin attending as ambassadors for the organisation.

"This will be a special, entertaining evening made even more interesting by the awards ceremonies and banter between Beau and Trent, who are set to play against each other for their respective teams on the field the next day," Shellharbour councillor David Boyle said.

Since its inception, more than 1000 athletes have received help of up to $500,000 in value.

Some recipients who have achieved national and international success include Eric Klein (archery), Dianne Gorman (nee Dowd) and Olympian Casey Eastham (hockey), Shane and Brett Lee (cricket), Olympic gold medallist David Smith (surf lifesaving and kayaking) and rising ironman star Ben Carberry in the world surf lifesaving championships in Japan.

Earlier this year there was controversy when councillors voted 4-3 to strip the Shellharbour Sports Assistance Fund of an annual allocation of $10,000 when it was revealed the fund had "a healthy bank balance" of $32,000.

The fund was later guaranteed its $10,000 allocation for the next financial year by the council. However, from now on, the fund must formally apply for the money through the council's donations working party.

The fund also relies upon the contribution of sponsors and an annual fee from Shellharbour sporting groups.

"It is with the support of sponsors like council, Cleary Bros, The Shellharbour Club, the Oak Flats and Warilla bowling clubs and Bendigo Bank that this fund continues to assist our young athletes," Cr Boyle said.

The night will also feature the 2014 Sports Star of the Year awards for current athletes.

Cost is $20 for a two-course dinner and all entertainment to be held at The Shellharbour Club.

Contact Maree Lackenby for tickets on 0407 565 003.

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