DREAMS really can come true was the message delivered by tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley on Monday at the Jack Shannon Tennis Courts.
That was the message delivered by tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley on Monday at the Jack Shannon Tennis Courts.
It was as the former Barellan resident – who twice achieved her childhood dream of winning Wimbledon – showed the 80 students the bat her father carved out of an apple crate – which she used to hone her skills as a child, that they started to believe anything is possible.
She was back in town to host an “Indigenous Come and Try Day” – a program aimed at achieving her second dream of getting “as many Indigenous kids playing tennis and staying in school as possible”.
“I used the tennis crate bat to hit a tennis ball against a wall, over and over,” she said.
“I’d make it a tournament and try and beat my own score. Local townspeople in Barellan would watch me and entered me in competitions.
As I improved, they sponsored me.
“This is my way of helping young kids achieve dreams using tennis.
“It’s a way I can help keep kids in school and is incentive based.”
Goolagong Cawley said she was proud the Evonne Goolagong Foundation and the Australian Government Learn Earn Legend initiative had made such a big difference to the lives of many young people.
‘’We usually pick about six or seven kids, they’re not necessarily the best tennis player, but the kid who really tries and is willing to learn, and we give them tennis scholarships, meaning free tennis lessons from the local coach,’’ Goolagong Cawley said.
“If they stay in school and attend their lessons, later on we’ll introduce them to state camps, and from there, if they stay in school and attend their lessons, they’ve got a really good chance of getting into the national camp.’’
From the foundation’s annual national camp, high school scholarships are offered, with 37 beneficiaries so far, including four now at university and one studying to become a doctor.
“My husband, Roger, and I have been doing this for about 18 years but the foundation was only set up a few years ago,” Mrs Goolagong Cawley.
“It’s a passion that stems from starting out in Barellan.
“All of the young coaches working here have been through our program. We’ve helped them all stay in school.”