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Our History

Their foresight and efforts were rewarded when on a fine and sunny Saturday morning in December 1968 at the athletics field at Pagewood, hundreds of young children swarmed all over the field. And so was started the first Little Athletics club in NSW. That club was called after the existing senior club “Randwick-Botany” and when the NSW State Association was formed in 1970 the club's name was officially known as the Randwick Botany Little Athletics Centre. The Association was formed when other little clubs like Eastern Suburbs, Sutherland, Hornsby, Blacktown and Manly in the City, along with Deniliguin and Murrumbidge in the Country, combined to formulate a State Association.
Being the first club in NSW the Randwick Botany Little Athletics Centre was given the honour of wearing the centre number one on its competition shirt, signifying No.1 and as is today still the one.
The driving force behind the formation of the Randwick Botany Club was a, Mr C.D. Hensley, “Chic” as he was known and the athletics field was named in his honour the “C.D. Hensley Athletics Field”. A greater honour was bestowed when in 1972 “Chic” received Life Membership of the NSW Little Athletics Association. Since that time 3 other prominent Randwick Botany Committee members received that honour: Dick Corish, Jack Freeman and Jack McCarthy.

The second most important award in Little Athletics is known as the LAA Merit Award and Carmen Jones, Judy and Tony Vecellio have received that recognition.

The original committees of the State Association were filled with men of the Randwick Botany Centre and, although they helped build the Association, it seriously affected the workings of our own centre where a lot of experience and knowledge was misdirected. It took a few years before a strong committee was able to stand on its own feet and built the centre back up to be one of the strongest and best, on and off the field, and where it remains today.

On average, 500 children register each season, the lowest some 280 and the highest 778 some 21 years ago. Although in 2010 we were relocated to Mutch Park but we still maintained 540 members only 120 less than the 2009 season of 660.
Being the 1st centre and born in 1968, makes the current season the 45th season of track and field athletics for children at the C.D. Hensley Field at Pagewood. Only twice in those 44 years has competition not been at the athletics field and only on 3 or 4 occasions has rain caused abandonment. Rain, hail or shine is the proud catch cry and as we say to parents: “If you are silly enough to bring your kids along in the rain, we are silly as well to stand out with them".

Winning the State March at the first State Carnival and winning it for the second time in 1992. The proud fact, that in the past 40 years or so, over 90 children have been selected in the State squad to compete at the Nationals. Many have gone on to greater heights in athletics and many have followed other paths but in their U12 and U13 they were the best in NSW. One year, 3 girls - Nerida Moore, Rachael Dunham and Olivia Skene made up the team of 11 girls, a great achievement. And on another occasion (year 2000) 4 children were selected, although only 3 competed. Nick Andrianakos, Tristan Garrett, Josene Peri and Evita Jatmika - 4 out of the squad of 22. Another proud moment was when Kate Farne and Viola Diloi were selected in the State team and the following year when the age was changed from U12 to U13 they were good enough to be selected again. In the past 3 seasons 2009-12, 10 children have been selected. How many centres can match that? It is interesting to note that not all stars were stars in Little Athletics. For example, Alani Diloi had 3 fouls in her discus at the U15 State Championships and Clay Cross 3 fouls in his shot as U10. But both went to represent Australia at the World Junior Championships, Clay at the Commonwealth Games. Many notable adults have given credit to their involvement with our centre - Michael Whitney (Australian Cricket) and Sue Kenny (Australian Netball captain) to name but a few. Dozens of 1st grade footballers and many more have achieved State, National and International recognition.

Two longest standing records in NSW are held by U8 David Misson - 67.8 sec. for his 400m in 1975 and U10 Philip Provenzano's 100m of 12.7 sec. in 1978. They certainly have stood the test of time.

I could write pages and pages about history of this centre, but if I was asked to briefly outline the Randwick Botany Little Athletics Centre that would be: "Same place - same time - same format for 44 years and that tops"


State Champions for year 1978, Wendy Nixon (U10), Craig Thorn (U10) and Sally Morgan (U9) All State Champion Walkers

 

Tony Vecellio (dressed as an eagle) and Judy Vecellio at the State March some 20 years ago

State March some 30 years ago!

Way back in 1964 at the Victorian town of Geelong the first club for children's athletics was formed and in 1967 the Victorian Little Athletics Association commenced.
Up in Sydney a group of interested local Eastern Suburbs and Botany residents also believed in the value of a sport of track and field athletics for children.

Tony Vecellio,
Committee member since 1970 and
President for the past 35 years