125 years is a long time.
Just ask Nilma Darnum Football Netball Club (FNC).
Now entering its 126th season the club, known locally as the Bombers, has stood the test of time to become a cornerstone of the local community.
'Not only do we offer great sporting programs, but we also give people the space to get together and chat on a Friday night,' said Secretary Trish Price.
'We've become the main community space in the area,' she added.
But struggling with lights from a bygone era, the Nilma Darnum FNC was in desperate need of lighting upgrades.
'For each of my 9 years as club secretary, we've been wringing our hands about what to do with the lights,' said Trish.
'It got to the stage that only 2 of 4 lighting towers on the footy oval would work and, even then, we needed a portable generator,' she added.
This resulted in the Bombers players only being able to train on half the oval with certain parts of the ground being overused. There was also the added risk of injuries in the dark.
The situation on the netball courts wasn't much better, with shadowed areas becoming no-go zones for fear of injury and training disruptions.
'It was a bit dismal for a while,' said Trish.
Luckily, brighter days - and nights - are on the horizon, thanks to $200,000 in support from the Victorian Government's 2021-22 Country Football and Netball Program and a $303,000 grant from Baw Baw Shire Council.
Delivered in partnership with the AFL, AFL Victoria and Netball Victoria, the program provides funding to assist regional football and netball clubs, associations and umpiring organisations to upgrade and develop facilities in rural, regional and outer metropolitan locations.
For Nilma Darnum FNC, it will mean installation of new lighting on the oval and two netball courts at Darnum Recreation Reserve.
This will ensure all football and netball lighting is fit for purpose. It will also provide new security lighting and power upgrades for the clubhouse.
For Trish and the other members of Nilma Darnum FNC, these upgrades will mark an exciting new chapter for the club.
'We'll be able to have full-game training scenarios and won't have to worry about people running into each other in the dark,' said Trish.
'It also means we can have twilight matches and bring the community out to watch games during the week. It will also mean we can expand our juniors' program.'
'It's going to be such a huge boost for football and netball in the area,' she added.
The lighting and power upgrades at Darnum Recreation Reserve, delivered in partnership with Baw Baw Shire Council, are due for completion in mid-2023, just in time for the Bombers big push towards the finals in the second half of the season.
These upgrades follow on the heels of the creation of a female-friendly netball pavilion at Darnum Recreation Reserve thanks to funding from the Victorian Government’s 2018-19 Local Sports Infrastructure – Female Friendly Facilities Fund and Baw Baw Shire Council.
The current round of the Country Football and Netball Program is open until Monday 27 March.