Western Sydney Academy of Sport athletes attend mayoral reception in Penrith

Three up-and-coming local sport stars have attended a mayoral reception held at Penrith City Council.

Hockey player Annie Buckley, softball star Matthew Beach, and rising netball talent Jessica Beards attended council on Monday, July 3 to be received by Penrith Mayor John Thain as recognition of their talents.

The three are members of the Western Sydney Academy of Sport (WSAS) and both chief executive Martin Bullock and chairman Alan Whelpton, AO, also attended the event.

Year 11 Penrith Anglican College student Matthew Beach addressed the reception on behalf of the athletes, describing his personal journey as a member of the WSAS softball squad from the age of 13.

“Three years later and I am still proud to be part of the WSAS softball program, and … what the program offers to all of us athletes that want to be better at the sport we play, that want to achieve at a high representative level, and that are not afraid to work and train hard to get where we want to go,” he told the gathering.

Softball player Matthew Beach speaks at the reception

“From a rookie three years ago to one of the leaders of the WSAS softball squad, I have been very fortunate to make the NSW Boys U17 state softball squad two years in a row, and have made the NSW All Schools Boys State softball team that will go to the Pacific School Games this year.

“I am really looking forward to the opportunity of playing for NSW and my teammates and know that a lot of the experience I have gained from being part of the WSAS softball program has helped me get to where I am today.” 

The three were congratulated by Cr Thain, who also thanked WSAS for its dedication to athletes across the region.

“Your development programs and your partnerships help these young people achieve their dreams,” he said.

“Annie, Matthew and Jessica I wish you every success as you continue your sporting careers. I have no doubt that we’re in the presence of a future Hockeyroo, and Aussie Steeler and a Diamonds player tonight.

Penrith Mayor John Thain addresses the reception

“Our city and our community look forward to cheering you on.”

WSAS chief executive Martin Bullock said the academy had enjoyed a “wonderful relationship” with Penrith City Council for 13 years and the event was the opportunity for council to recognise some of the area’s future stars.

“That’s what we’re all about, developing future stars … providing them with a grounding and opportunities for technical, educational and personal development,” he said.

“These three [athletes present] are outstanding examples of what’s happening in the academy.” 

Penrith councillor Bernard Bratusa, council director on the WSAS board, said sport was not just about a game, and wished the athletes all the best for the future.

“It’s not just about the game, it’s about growth that comes with it,” he said.

“Good luck in all your endeavours, guys. All sports are a game for life.”

WSAS chief executive Martin Bullock addresses the reception