Sporting Activities Part 1

Over the years many of the GFS Sports Days were held in the grounds of Perth College and this was an ideal setting. With the big growth of branches and membership in the early 1950s, a larger venue was needed and the athletic carnival was held at the West Australian Cricket Association (WACA) ground for five years. This gave the opportunity for an impressive march past of GFS members before the carnival commenced and there was always keen competition for the Anglican Youth Council Cup, which was awarded for the march. There was an emphasis on team games so that as many girls as possible could take part. It was always a colourful day and the Ethel Burt Club members served the afternoon tea.

There were also several athletic carnivals held at the South Perth Zoo. The sports ground there was very attractive, even though there were distractions! One leader remembers having to rescue one of her members who decided to have a ride on the little train that followed the circuit of the oval, at the time when she should have been lining up for a race! The number attending these carnivals was very large. 1,000 GFSers and parents went through the zoo gates in 1959 and other venues were also wonderfully supported.

When the Anglican Sporting Association Ground was first established in 1960 and church youth organisations were asked to support it, GFS gladly did so even though the facilities at the time were not as good as those of other venues. However conditions quickly improved and GFS continued to support it in every way for the next seven years, until its identity changed. The support included considerable fund raising and on two occasions a GFS representative became ‘ASA Sports Girl of the Year.’

In 1960 it was Miss Ellaine Wright, a leader from Millen Branch and in 1961 it was Miss Merle Henderson, a leader from East Fremantle. 580 pounds was raised towards the new sports ground during those two years.

From 1968 the athletic carnivals were held at other venues, including the Zoo and Lathlain Park.

There came a time when many of the girls no longer wanted a highly competitive sports day, but preferred a more relaxed one. As a result, family sports days were introduced, with fun events making them more like picnics. Even this type of activity lost appeal, so the sports days were discontinued and other activities took their place.

This was the way GFS was ready to meet the changing needs of its girls and the same situation eventually happened with the swimming carnivals. Although these had been held at Crawley in the early days, Beatty Park was the natural choice as GFS membership grew rapidly. They were held at that venue for ten years from 1963 and this was a time when competition was very keen between branches, many had outstanding swimmers and the aim was always to ‘break the record.’

However, as with the sports days, there came a resistance to the swimming carnival being so highly competitive and the venue was changed in 1973 to Fremantle Aquatic Centre, where the carnival was held for six years. The emphasis then was on all girls having a chance to swim for their branches, rather than just the best.  In 1979 the venue was changed again to Applecross Senior High School Pool, where it has remained until the end of the carnivals in the 90’s. The carnival was held on a Sunday afternoon rather than at night and became a delightful family outing. The programme was a relaxed one, with many novelty events as well as the traditional races. All age groups take part from Teddy Bears to senior members and leaders, with many teenagers involved, so it obviously has appeal for all age groups.