Little Athletics was introduced in Queensland in 1976 after its successful formation for junior athletes in Victoria in the 1960s.
A steering committee for Maroochy Little Athletics Centre was formed in September 1981 when the State Association of Little Athletics called a public meeting in Maroochydore to introduce the concept of the sport and gauge the interest from local families.
Members of the inaugural committee were:
Centre Manager – David Blake; Secretary – Alison Quirke; Treasurer – Heather Love; Equipment & Programming – Graham Lukins.
For the first season competition meets were conducted at the Maroochydore Primary school grounds where 189 athletes ranging from 5 – 12yrs registered. It was a steep learning curve for the committee and parents alike to assist these athletes with their events and also with officiating. In September 1982 the Centre moved its home base to Maroochydore Junior Rugby League grounds and in 1985 their own dedicated athletic track with long jump pits and throwing circles was realised.
Competition meets were held on a Saturday morning.
Unfortunately with keen growth in Junior sport increasing on the Coast it was not viable for the two codes to share the grounds and so MLAC were once more on the move – this time to Maroochydore State High School were the school had just completed extension work on their oval and a fully surveyed 400m track was marked out.
In 1992/93 season the Centre installed flood lighting at a loan cost of $16,000 and they drew up an agreement with the Education Dept to enable competition meets to be held under lights on a Friday night. This seemed to be a lot more attractive arrangement for local families. The Centre continues to have an excellent agreement with MSHS grounds and administration departments and in the late 1990’s, in liaison with the school built their own equipment shed and canteen.
In the mid 1980’s numbers of athletes following the code grew to just under 600 and in conjunction with Maroochy we saw the introduction of Centres at Nambour, Caloundra, Maleny and Bli Bli enabling families to attend Centres in their own geographic areas. Maroochy maintained a steady membership of 230-250. Age groups were increased in Little Athletics in Qld to include Under 13s, then Under 15s and in 2007/08 they introduced Under 17s.
In 1990 Maroochy sought affiliation with the States “senior” athletics body – Qld Athletics – to cater for the needs of the older athletes and they maintained “dual” affiliation until the early 2000s. Administration requirements to hold dual membership was quite complex and eventually they formed two separate committees and Maroochy Little Athletics Centre reverted back to affiliation with Little Athletics Queensland (LAQ) only. Age groups in Queensland currently cater for the range from Tiny Tots (ages 3 & 4) and from Under 6 to Under 17.
Equipment and facilities for the athletes throughout the years have been purchased through the fundraising efforts of our Committee or more recently by applying for “community” grants and gaining support of the local businesses on the Coast.
In 2015 the Centre was fortunate to be successful in gaining two grant approvals, one from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund and one from QLD Sports and Recreation to install a synthetic long jump facility and upgrade the two shot put facilities. In 2018 we received a Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant of $28,842 to upgrade the lighting.
This season is the 39th year of competition at Maroochy Little Athletics and in 2020/2021 they will be celebrating 40 years of providing a sporting opportunity for young athletes on the Coast. Please spread the word! Thank you to all those who have chosen to take the journey with us.