Sunderland Aussie Rules side Wearside Wallabies have been shortlisted for a prestigious funding grant to help them to continue to grow the sport in the area.

The Grassroots Giving grant, from Skipton Building Society, rewards clubs and societies around the country for supporting their local community, with 161 potsWearside Wallabies of £500 available.

The Wallabies are among 304 groups nominated for the 2014 grant, and are now relying on a public vote to help them claim the prize.

Shaun Bulmer, a founding member of the Wallabies who were formed earlier this year, said: “The grant would enable the club to purchase some much needed training equipment, which in turn would allow us to hold more effective training sessions.

“We currently have no sponsorship so our funding options are limited. The Skipton grant is £500 which is a sum that would be extremely difficult for us to raise otherwise.”

The Wallabies are a feeder side for North East Aussie Rules side Tyne Tees Tigers and cover the areas of Sunderland, Gateshead, County Durham and Washington.

“The growth of the club has been slower than we would have hoped,” Bulmer said. “We’re held back by the fact that Aussie Rules is a niche sport and as such doesn’t get very much exposure in the mainstream media.

“The sport is also often misunderstood with people thinking of it as either a mass brawl or an inferior form of rugby; neither of which are accurate.”

Wearside’s only Aussie Rules club have had to fend for themselves from start-up and currently train at Herrington Country Park, with limited funds available to them.

Bulmer adds: “Sports clubs would definitely benefit from more help, particularly when starting up.

“There are various costs involved in setting up and keeping a club going and it can be difficult to cover those costs, especially for a club in a niche sport, like Aussie Rules.

“However, with cuts being made to local authority budgets it’s understandable that the funds aren’t available. So we have to look at other options. For instance, we have struck up a relationship with Chiltern FNC, an Aussie Rules football club in the Australian state of Victoria, who were kind enough to send us over some of their old playing kits.

“We are always looking for new players. Anyone, male or female, aged 16+ can come along and take part in training. Aussie Rules is great for anyone wanting to try a new sport or anyone looking to get fit and keep fit in a fun, friendly environment.”

Voting for the grant opens on September 1st at http://www.skiptongrg.co.uk/apply-for-funding/whos-applying/north-east/wearside-wallabies/.

 
 

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