FOR some it conjures up images of Alice in Wonderland and the croquet-loving queen and her flamingo mallet, but the game means more to an increasing number of people on the Mornington Peninsula.
The Rye and Blairgowrie Croquet Club is opening up the game to a new community of sports lovers by being one of the first, if not the only, croquet club catering to those who are disadvantaged, isolated and “disillusioned”.
The RNB Croquet Club is a mobile/pop-up club working with community groups on the peninsula.
Club president and co-founder Terri Manwaring, who started the club five years ago with husband Bill and friend Scott Hibbins, said they were already club players on the peninsula but wanted to start something different after meeting a player with a disability.
“Most clubs don’t allow wheelchair users to play and don’t always cater for other disabilities so, after meeting a disabled man who really wanted to play, we decided we could absolutely start a club to cater for all,” she said.
Manwaring said her husband’s involvement in the sport was a kind of “joke”.
“I had retired and was playing at a peninsula club and my husband, who didn’t play, kept telling me how to play and what to do. So, I said to him, ‘when you join a club and start playing you can tell me how to play’.
“So, he did, and from then on we started playing together and then started the RNB Croquet Club, and now it’s a family affair after our son decided to take it up.”
Manwaring said she fell in love with croquet because it was a fun sport that had a strong social element, got people outdoors, was non-contact and suitable for all ages and abilities.
“Doesn’t matter how old or young you are, or what your level of ability is, it can be for everyone,” she said.
“But best of all, we get to meet people from all over the place and we just have fun.”
The club also has a strong community commitment, volunteering with The Portsea Camp for the past few years, and often working with community groups.
The Manwaring family has played tournaments internationally and is on the world ranking list.
While the club has a mandate of inclusiveness and “fun”, it doesn’t actually have a permanent home or players, and shares an uncovered section of Truemans Reserve in Capel Sound with other users, or “any available lawn, park, church lawn or open space suitable to accommodate the size of the day’s group.
Manwaring said the club would be able to cater better for its members if it had a permanent home with some covered space.
“We are so limited in what we can do, so we are crossing our fingers that something comes up,” she said.
Details: croquetvic.asn.au/clubpage.php?clubnameclicked=RNB or Email email@example.com