Weston Indoor Sports has been part of the southwest Canberra community for more than 30 years. Each week, the venue provides the opportunity for thousands of people to get valuable exercise and socialise through indoor cricket, netball, volleyball, soccer, dodgeball and parties.
Brothers Con and Tony Floros have been at the helm since 1987, and they have seen some pretty tough times, but they say nothing compares to 2020.
“Following a really slow summer because of all the smoke from the bushfires, excessive heat and then Canberra’s hailstorm, just as things were starting to come back, COVID-19 hit and we shut down almost overnight,” says Con. “We closed down completely for more than three months.
“Even though we feel we offer a community service, especially for all the kids in the local area, Weston Indoor Sports doesn’t receive any government funding at all. That makes it tough for us when we are competing with other sports competitions that do get funding.”
The centre’s landlord was supportive during the lockdown period so Weston Indoor Sports was able to survive when other businesses around Australia closed for good. But Con worries that restrictions and hesitancy from members of the public to return means the tough times are set to continue.
“It would be devastating if we went back to another lockdown,” he says. “It’d be really hard to come back from another closure.”
With summer here, the popular junior soccer competitions are well underway at the complex. Con says soccer is an essential part of the business with more than 800 kids taking part every Saturday.
“We had last year’s competition cut short and we’re a bit worried that alone will affect our numbers this year,” says Tony. “People are a bit more reserved about coming forward and registering during this tough time. We’re hoping that nothing more happens in Canberra and that people get back into our competitions again.”
Con and Tony have kept in touch with similar centres in Victoria and they know that many won’t come back. He says now more than ever people need to get behind community businesses.
“We’ve tried to go out of our way to make sure we use local suppliers,” says Tony. “I think everyone has probably now realised how important it is to support local business given how tough it’s been during the past nine months.”
The countless tales of generosity and sacrifice from members of the public highlight the importance of facilities such as Weston Indoor Sports to the community. People such as Warren Eggins, who umpired the first indoor cricket match at Weston Indoor Sports back in 1987 and still devotes his time to officiate.
“Warren has been around for a long time and is a great advocate for our sports environment and our business,” says Con. “Most of his time is volunteer work and he’s always supported us by umpiring.
“I think it’s his outlet. He works hard, likes to be around the group and continues to devote a lot of time to help us out. He’s one of those blokes who you love to have around and is always quick with a joke and a laugh around the whole group.”
Weston Indoor Sports is open seven days a week from 10 am to 10 pm. You can make a booking or find out more information on its website.