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Nearly century-old Adelaide sports club faces closure

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A 95-year-old sports club in Adelaide’s inner north is appealing to the wider community for financial support in a last-ditch attempt to stay afloat.

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The Kilburn Football and Cricket Club says it has racked up a debt of more than $120,000, with money owed to the City of Port Adelaide Enfield council, power company AGL and the Australian Tax Office.

City of Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Claire Boan said after a confidential meeting last week, the council had given the club until September 17 to “provide council all information for consideration on its future and debt repayment plan”.

She said the club owed the council about $22,000 in rates, lease and hire charges.

Kilburn Football and Cricket Club president and player Dale Agius told InDaily the club had hired a financial adviser to help tackle the financial woes but, without community support, the club would likely close.

He said members would be appealing to the public for financial support at a meeting on Sunday, with an aim to reach a target of $45,000.

“That would give us baseline that we can start to plan things before the council deadline,” Agius said.

“If this fails, it’s doors shut – this is the critical point.

“The club has been the heart of this entire area for a long time and it would be worse than a tragedy for it to be taken away from people who badly need it.”

He said part of the debt had come from members not being able to pay fees and registration, which he emphasised was no fault of their own.

“[The club] tries to give disadvantaged people a place to play sport…. [and] we try to support local people who are unemployed,” he said.

He said the club had been struggling to pay staff their full entitlements.

“There has [also] been some mismanagement in the way we prioritised our spending,” he said.

Agius said the club had brought in a new eight-member board at the end of last year, which he had hoped would turn around the financial problems.

“We have to work through what is effective governance… what council wants to see is us working effectively as a governing body,” he said.

The club, known as the “Chics”, has teams across senior and junior AFL, soccer and cricket leagues.

Agius said the club had also had interest from women wanting to start an AFL team, which could kick off in February if the club was able to remain open.

They would also like to add two more junior teams to the mix.

Ghan United Soccer Club chairman Rahim Shah Zaidi said the club had been vital to the community.

“From Kilburn to Elizabeth there are more than 5000 Afghan people who live there,” he said.

“We need soccer, football and cricket here because that is what our community wants.

“We see [Kilburn FC] as a cultural place for us and it’s a good example of how people from different cultures can come together.”

The Ghan Kilburn City Soccer Club uses the Kilburn Football club facilities.

Agius said the club had a total of 150 registered members, a large portion of whom came from Afghan, Pakistani and Aboriginal backgrounds.

He said the Lionel Avenue grounds had been considered “a safe space” for many of the young Aboriginal players.

“Tension in sport is prolific, it’s real these days. Racism is no longer swept under the carpet (so) when you get a safe place like Kilburn FC for Aboriginal people to come and play and be respected without being judged, it’s very important to maintain,” he said.

“This is our club and it’s like a family. It’s the centre not only for the people who play sport but also the surrounding community because it brings immense pride and a sense of achievement for a community which is so disadvantaged.”

The Chics will hold their meeting to discuss fundraising efforts at 10am on Sunday at the Kilburn Football Club and Cricket grounds.

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