Pickleball stalwarts honoured

Helen O'Brien with playing partner Alan Balloch. Pictures by Chris Munro.

By Tania Phillips

Two of the leading lights of the Southern Downs Pickleball Association have been recognised for their work to establish the burgeoning sport in the region.

The sport, which was established in Warwick five years ago has also spread to Stanthorpe and Toowoomba in recent times as well with the three groups planning activities and competitions together this season, according to Helen O’Brien.

Helen O’Brien, who brought the sport to the region and Ann-Marie Cutmore , who helped get it up and running, were recognised for their contributions by Pickleball Queensland late last year – the awards have only just recently arrived.

“Pickleball Queensland established the awards which encouraged players to nominate players in their club so it’s like a Players Player,” O’Brien explained.

“It was an opportunity for players in each club to nominate a player or players from their club that they felt had been instrumental in either the formation or the training or just keeping things going. Somebody who with significance to the club.

“I wanted to nominate Ann-Marie Cutmore, she’s been an enthusiastic player and she’s been helping people learn the game and attending. Just a really good supporter of the club right from the beginning, since her first game. But she refused to be solo, so I agreed, in order to get her nominated, to be in it as well. Everybody in the club agreed with that because I was one of the founders and Ann-Marie have worked together on keeping things ticking over but we’ve got a really good committee as well.

“Pickleball Qld supplied the awards which were given out their awards in November but none of us could get there so they arrived in the post. We got a medal and a certificate acknowledging our work with the local club.”

She said the club now had about 30 financial members with several more who just come to play casual.

“We have about 50 names on the books but not everyone comes to play every week,” she said.

“We haven’t focused on growth, we’ve just focused on continuity partly that’s because Wirac currently offer us certain times. We don’t want to promote growth and not accommodate people. But we’ve been going steadily and growing steadily for five years which is really good.”

O’Brien said this year they wanted to increase their connection with the Stanthorpe and Toowoomba groups.

“We have had a combined event with the Stanthorpe people and a couple of our players do go down on a reasonably regular basis,” she said.

“We helped them get going. We want to firm up that relationship.”

For more information to become involved head to the group’s facebook page.