Student softballers from Murdoch University are using their amateur fundraising skills to pay for the trip of a lifetime to compete in Sydney.
Sunday marks the beginning of the 2014 Australian University Games (AUG), Australia’s largest, annual, multi-sport event.
A tradition since 1993, the AUG celebrates university students’ athleticism and promotes inter-university camaraderie and sportsmanship.
The event features 30 individual and team sports, attracting more than 6,000 participants each year from all over Australia to compete at one of four locations: Adelaide, Perth, Queensland and this year’s host, Sydney.
Sydney intends to deliver one of the biggest AUG’s yet, with numbers set to exceed 7,000.
For Western Australian students, getting there poses significant financial stress with many teams trying their hand at fundraising to cover costs.
One driven team is the Murdoch University women’s softball, who have raised almost $3,000 from hosting barbeques, parties and securing sponsors.
With the cost of flights, uniforms and registration, costs quickly escalated.
“Our uniforms were really expensive, they were about $2,000 in total, it was about $110 each, but we fundraised and were able to pay that off for everybody, thank God,” team captain April Hand says.
The girls have been training weekly for the past six months, but are looking forward to their first scratch match ahead of their first game against 2013 champions the University of Technology, Sydney.
WA teams usually get the chance to check out their competition throughout the year with Tertiary Sports WA hosting tournaments between WA universities but, with only three WA-based softball teams, there aren’t enough for a tournament.
But skill and competitive spirit are only two facets of competing, and what really sets the Murdoch women apart is their bond as both teammates and friends.
“We started out not knowing anyone and we had quite a few bonding sessions and it really started to build us up and make connections,” first year university student and team member Melanie Hall says.
After all of their hard work fundraising and training, a break with friends is just what the doctor ordered.
“It’s definitely worth it,” April says.
Get to know the Murdoch softballers: