Deakin Cats Community Centre, Sarah

‘I was very fortunate in starting with the Cats as a Deakin University intern and I’ve been with them for a total of 14 seasons. I lived overseas for a couple of years and worked for the England & Wales cricket team but Geelong was where I wanted to bring up my family.’ We speak with Sarah Albon, Geelong Cats Community General Manager about the Deakin Cats Community Centre. The mother of three sons below the age of five, is passionate about football, sport in general and helping the community.

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‘The Deakin Cats Community Centre is a state-of-the-art 800 square metre facility located on the ground floor of the Players Stand at the southern end of Simonds Stadium. The key features include the Deakin Cats Connect Lab, a meeting room, multi-purpose area, Gartland Heritage Centre showcasing a multi-million dollar collection of objects and images, office space, kitchenette and toilets.

‘We have 97 community groups who use the Centre free of charge. With 50% of its total use attributed to community groups, the Centre has helped the Cats achieve our vision of greater engagement with the broader Geelong community. It is also home to the Past Players & Officials Association. Since opening the doors in 2013, the Centre has proudly hosted over 64,000 people in community, education and learning experiences in its purpose-built rooms.

‘There are a diverse range of groups who use the space. For example, the Geelong Prostate Support Group for families, different sporting organisations, community education programs, disability groups and Operation New Start, run by the Victorian Police. The Cats have been a community partner of Read the Play for 10 years who also use the rooms. There are also lots of youth groups- we find that the young people love coming along.

‘Our community programs run out of the centre too. We have the ‘BioCATS’ program for Grade 5/6s which focuses on movement, nutrition and hydration, ‘Just Think’ runs in conjunction with Barwon Child Youth & Family that delivers a program about safe behaviours in relation to alcohol and drugs, ‘Cyber Cats’ for Year 7s covers online safety and ‘Closing the Gap’. The indigenous community helped us shape that program.’