Ala-Outinen touched by NZ tragedy
HAVING recently holidayed in Christchurch, Ipswich sporting couple Kevin and Leah Ala-Outinen can sympathise with the disbelief New Zealand earthquake victims are feeling.
Kevin spent time in the beautiful city when he coached the Australian over-30 men’s indoor cricket team that won the 2008 World Cup in Christchurch.
He was eager to return and did.
“On a personal note, Leah and I were there for a holiday at Christmas,” Kevin said.
“We stayed in Christchurch for a couple of days and got photos at the cathedral (that since collapsed).
“We stayed in apartments that we can see have buckled and everything else. That was only six weeks ago.”
Seeing the majestic New Zealand city crumble came after the Ipswich Indoor Sports Centre part-owners watched the emotional strain of last month’s devastating Ipswich floods.
Kevin and Leah joined with other husband and wife business partners Glynn and Kym Knox and Darren and Sharon Lehmann in playing an important community role.
The three couples opened up the Ipswich Showground venue as an evacuation centre for two weeks.
“All of us were here,” Kevin said, handing over temporary control to Red Cross.
“That morning we were gearing up for indoor cricket and netball when all of a sudden, within five or six hours, we’ve got 400 people here looking for somewhere to stay and handing out beds, sheets, blankets and water.
“We just put them anywhere to get them in the first couple of nights and then there was a bit more order.
“It was good to help.
“We didn’t have a hesitation when council (Ipswich City Council) gave us a call.”
With emotional links to the tragedies at home and overseas, Kevin and Leah are trying to stay positive.
They are keeping busy gearing up for a new season of indoor sports, featuring 200 teams.
Having given up their former jobs, the Yamanto couple is working full-time at one of Ipswich’s most valuable sporting facilities.
“It’s the busiest time of the year,” said Kevin, preparing for the start of Super League seasons in indoor netball and cricket.
The popular indoor soccer and daytime ladies midweek netball competitions also demand attention.
Married to Leah for 23 years, Kevin said a short-term focus was getting more mixed and junior competitions up and running.
Future plans for volleyball are also being considered.
“We’re very happy with the three sports that we have but we’d like to grow it more,” he said.
Kevin and Leah estimate the centre is being used about 80% of capacity during the week.
An important upgrade sure to help players and coaches has been changing the LED scoreboards to plasma screens. The upgrade is linked to the indoor centre’s website to provide immediate scores and updated statistics.