Why busy Ipswich venue is so satisfying

7th December 2017 5:30 AM
Long-serving Ipswich netball official Gail Lyne. Long-serving Ipswich netball official Gail Lyne. David Nielsen

IPSWICH achiever Gail Lyne only has to look out over the Doris Howes courts on a Saturday during winter to gain immense satisfaction.

With 1500 players lining up in more than 150 teams at the fantastic Limestone Park venue, Lyne has every reason to be pleased.

"We probably have the best facility in Queensland,'' the Ipswich Netball Association president said.

Apart from the 24 upgraded and well laid out courts, the Doris Howes Complex is situated in an impressive parkland with so much surrounding space.

That's one of the reasons Ipswich has attracted the next State Age Championships. More than 200 teams are expected in July next year when Ipswich hosts the four-day titles for a fifth time.

The last occasion Ipswich was host was in 2013.

For Queensland Service to Sport Award winner Lyne, securing such championships is a credit to her dedicated management committee and the volunteers who contribute their valuable time.

"If you build it, they will come,'' she said.

A million dollar upgrade with Ipswich City Council support in 2005 was a turning point.

"The courts used to be on three different levels,'' she said. "In that one, we stripped them all and put them all on one level and made the space between the courts wider.

"They were just bitumen and we only had one flexi-pave court then because it was just too expensive to do any more.''

Major upgrades since have included laying a new acrylic surface on 16 courts in 2014 and a year later bringing the other eight courts up to the same standard, along with adjustable goal posts.

Such projects capped Lyne's ongoing commitment to facility development since the first lighting was introduced in 1977.

Having been association president for the past 21 consecutive years, Gail Lyne has played a leading role in netball's ongoing progress.

"You have to make it fun,'' she said, having piloted Ipswich's 5-7 years Fun-net program now called Net Set Go.

"Over the last five years, we've had about a 10 percent increase (in numbers) each year.''

Forty-four years working as a customer centre manager for Queensland Rail has helped her at netball.

"It's all about dealing with people. There are so many different personalities,'' she said.

The next Ipswich netball season starts in March, with re-evaluations and planning already under way.

She appreciates many people who have shared her journey.

They include mentors Lyndall Mitchell (Wests) and Jan Maggocis (former state coach), as well as Ipswich colleagues like secretary Debbie Vandenberg and former treasurer Margaret Page.

"I am really proud of the people that step up and do take on the roles,'' Lyne said. "It is a big commitment.

"The most satisfying part is just looking out on Saturday and seeing everything happening.''