A multi-purpose sports facility invented by an Australian has proven a hit with teenagers in remote communities.

Story By Gretel Sneath

Nothing to do at Yalgoo’ has a certain ring to it – unless, of course, you live there. A couple of tired old tennis courts and a broken playground were no longer cutting it for kids in the 150-strong community, six hours north of Perth, so the local shire enlisted South Australian sports complex designer Leon Purdy to come up with the ultimate activity centre.
“They said, ‘We want everything you’ve got,’ so we put in a multi-use sports court, a skate park, a BMX track, a solid volleyball net, a mini golf course, goal posts. When you added it all up, it was 25 sports and activities that the kids could do; it was like Christmas came to Yalgoo,” Leon says.
A unique court within a cage enclosure, called a Rage Cage, forms the centerpiece of the outback oasis. Offering up to 10 sports in one, the invention means kids can switch from basketball to netball, soccer, cricket, rock climbing, tennis, hockey and handball, depending on their mood.
“The advantage of it being multi-purpose is that a group of kids will come in, play for half an hour and disappear, and then another group of kids will come in and play a completely different sport. It’s basically everything for everyone,” Leon says. “When you reduce the size of a sports facility like this, it actually speeds up the activity.”
Yalgoo’s Indigenous parenting coordinator Mata Te Hiini says the complex has been well received. “It has created a place where all of the kids can play safely, but it’s also become a real meeting spot; it’s a common ground where everybody can gather,” he says.
Leon’s inspiration for tackling teen boredom came from his own backyard. His four children felt they were missing out on the action living on their Adelaide Hills property so, 18 years ago, he decided to make them the ultimate outdoor entertainment facility. “They were reasonably isolated when it came to ball sports and team games, so I designed a little multi-sports court,” he says. When his own family embraced the Rage Cage, the former milkman and part-time Army Reservist saw potential to develop it into a commercial product. “The playground thing has been done to death, which is fine for children under eight years of age, but where do children and teenagers go from there? ” Leon asks.

This Story is from Issue #101

Outback Magazine: June/July 2015