Warrnambool teenager Isaak O’Rourke.WHEN most teenagers are fast asleep, Warrnambool teenager Isaak O’Rourke is working up a sweat boxing and running hills.

The daily routine which starts at 5.30am was rewarded on Sunday when the 16-year-old punched his way to a state title.

Isaak claimed the Victorian Novice and Intermediate Championship in the light welterweight (60kg) division at the Reggio Calabria Club in Parkville.

He claimed a 9-7 points decision in the three two-minute round bout.

Despite a punishing preparation that included sparring with world champion Sam Soliman, Isaak was surprised to get the judges’ decision.

“I thought it was pretty even,” he said of the fight.

“I was a little worried how I would go but when I got it I was just thrilled.

“You put in all the work to hear that, it was great.”

The Emmanuel College year 11 student said his preparation for the bout was more about him executing his plan rather than focusing on his opponent.

“From the start I wanted to go hard.”

It was a plan that worked, although after months of training he left nothing in reserve.

“It just goes like that, it’s the longest six minutes you’ll have.”

Isaak, who has a 3-1 win/loss record in amateur fights, said he wanted to take his career in the sport as far as he could.

While his next fight could be as soon as next month, his training will be varied as he steps up for his debut with South Warrnambool’s under 18 side.

He rated Sunday’s title the highlight of his short sporting career, which has largely been focused on team sports like football.

“You feel like you’ve done it on your own so there is probably a greater personal satisfaction,” he said.

Such is his commitment to training, his coach Warrnambool’s Rodney Ryan had to tell him to take this week off .

“The kid works so hard,” Ryan said. “He deserves every success he gets.”

Isaak, who took up boxing two-and-a-half years ago for fitness, said his win involved a lot of help from different people, including his family.

But he paid special tribute to the array of recreational boxers who train alongside him at Ryan’s gym, including Emmanuel College deputy principal Brian Brown.

“They are such a great support to me.”

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A LACK of teenage footballers at a majority of Warrnambool and District league clubs is set to force organisers to make the under 17s a 16-player per side competition.

The Warrnambool and District Football Netball league executive will tomorrow night meet to discuss a recommendation the under 17s be reduced from an 18-a-side competition for this season only.

It comes just four months after the league’s request to increase the age limit to under 17-and-a-half was rejected by the Victorian Country Football League.

WDFNL junior development liaison manager Carey Hackett yesterday revealed seven clubs had between 14 and 17 players on their lists, six days before East Warrnambool and Deakin University kick off the season this Sunday.

He said only five clubs had enough players.

“And some of those only just had full lists,” he said.

Traditionally strong under 17 clubs like Merrivale and Russells Creek are among those battling for players with the Tigers last week taking the step of advertising for more. With the prospect of teenagers being promoted to seniors, not to mention injuries and unavailabilities through the season, the shortage would only grow.

The league executive is keen to gauge opinions from clubs before tomorrow night’s specially convened meeting.

The recommendation from Hackett to the executive comes after it adopted an overage policy late last year which allowed clubs to have five players on their list aged over 17 but under 17-and-a-half.

Hackett said he had spoken with all clubs last week and had unanimous backing for the 16-a-side competition.

“They are all happy with that recommendation,” Hackett said.

“Some have said it will be a godsend. It will take pressure off the under 14s and take pressure off coaches and presidents.”

He said a “breeding gap” must exist for so many clubs to be struggling for players while numbers were strong in the under 12 and under 14 age groups.

Hackett said his recommendation was aimed at creating a level playing field for all sides and protect under 14s from being pushed up to the older age group too soon.

He said clubs would still be permitted to play 18-a-side games if both teams had sufficient players or if one was prepared to loan players to its opponent.

President Justin Balmer said he was frustrated the league had tried to address the problem last year when it applied to the Victorian Country Football League wanting to increase the age group to under 17-and-a-half.

“We had concerns and we went to the VCFL about this problem early, they rejected our proposal and now it (the problem) has occurred.

“We were trying to be pro-active about the problem and the VCFL didn’t grant our request.”

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WARRNAMBOOL City Council last night doubled the stakes in its bold fight to stop electronic gaming machines from being installed in two new venues.

It took another potentially expensive gamble to lay its cards on the table at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal by opposing a planning permit application by the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery for eight poker machines.

The vote came almost six months after it opposed an application by Rafferty’s Tavern for 19 pokies.

In both cases, the majority of councillors disregarded advice from their planning department, which was to approve the applications under planning law.

Instead, they argued on higher moral grounds that pokies were not in the best interests of the community, particularly those from the lower socio-economic sector.

They called for the government and Municipal Association of Victoria to also take a strong anti-pokies stance.

The tribunal will hear a challenge from the Rafferty’s applicants on April 5 and the Flying Horse Bar and Brewery applicants have already lodged a challenge, which is expected to be heard in the next few months.

Flying Horse spokesman Graeme Rodger said last night he was confident the council would be defeated on both cases purely on planning grounds.

“The council is using ratepayers’ money to pay for their moral views. It’s not fair to the people of Warrnambool,” he said.

“I’ve been advised the hearing could cost council about $80,000.”

Two councillors did not participate in last night’s debate — Cr Andrew Fawcett was on holidays and Cr Rob Askew declared a pecuniary interest and left the room.

Only Cr Michael Neoh backed the planners’ recommendation to grant the permit.

“If we send our planners to VCAT it will be like sending lambs to the slaughter,” he said.

Cr John Harris again spearheaded the debate by outlining why he believed it was not in the community’s best interests for new gambling venues to be approved.

“It’s time for councils to stand up and say enough is enough,” he said. “The cost to families and the community from gambling needs to be pointed out to VCAT.

“I commend Moyne Shire Council for deciding to keep pokies out.”

His view was based on the venue being close to disadvantaged residential areas, within walking distance to shopping areas and near a McDonald’s restaurant frequented by children and families.

He also said the Gaming Commission was skewed towards economic benefits to the venue rather than social and economic costs to the community.

Mayor Jacinta Ermacora and councillors Peter Hulin and Jennifer Lowe also spoke strongly against the application, arguing that the council had a duty to protect vulnerable community members.

“There’s an enormous net loss to our community through gambling,” Cr Ermacora said.

“This application reduces the options for people to visit venues without pokies.”

Neither application exceeds the total city cap for pokies

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There are plans to keep part of the Otway Dinosaurs display in Apollo Bay permanently. Picture: David Simonds A DINOSAUR exhibit seen by millions of people around the world may have found its home after four months on display in the middle of an Apollo Bay paddock tin shed.

Usually kept in a museum, the Wildlife of Gondwana exhibit has been on temporary display at Otway Dinosaurs in Apollo Bay, but owners will now seek state and federal funding to keep part of it in the region.

With the display closing on April 29, Otway Dinosaurs owners Deb Moore and Greg Denney plan to create a permanent education and tourism facility based on the extraordinary fossil finds in the Otways Wildlife of Gondwana Exhibition.

The couple have committed the past four months to funding and setting up the exhibit, which has been seen by more than 6000 visitors since November 29.

A feasibility study is in the works, considering permanent locations for a museum at Apollo Bay or Dinosaur Cove, about 50 kilometres west on the Great Ocean Road.

Once buzzing with palaeontologists and hundreds of volunteers from around the world, Dinosaur Cove was the home of several species of polar dinosaurs discovered at the base of a 90-metre sea cliff.

Ms Moore said the display of dinosaurs and fossil finds would serve as a tourist attraction and a useful facility for regional schools. “A lot of Victorians would be totally surprised that there was such a thing as a Victorian dinosaur ,” she said

“It really surprised the scientific world to find dinosaurs lived down here.

“Victoria was in a polar region back in the Cretaceous times so they thought it was too cold.”

She said a permanent exhibit would also help the area’s economic development .

“We don’t want a dinosaur theme park.

“We have to be mindful the area is a very special one and any area has to be built with environmental sensitivities in mind.

Member for Corangamite Darren Cheeseman said showcasing Victoria’s unique dinosaur past in the region was a high priority. He said he looked forward to helping the permanent museum become a reality.

“It’s a very impressive collection and I think there is a fantastic opportunity for us to add to Victoria’s tourism by making this exhibit, or one very similar, part of a permanent display, whether it be at Dinosaur Cove or Apollo Bay,” Mr Cheeseman said.

“I’d very much welcome the opportunity to continue working with the exhibitors and the Colac Otway Shire around how that might happen.

“I think it would add to Victoria as a tourist destination… providing another attraction for people to our region.

“I certainly would encourage Deb and Greg to make an application for funding once they’ve developed the proposal in a detailed way.”

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CORANGAMITE Shire Council’s controversial decision to push for new tourist development along the coast has the backing of Premier Ted Baillieu.

The council’s decision, made almost a month ago, drew statewide attention yesterday and Mr Baillieu told ABC Radio the state government would look favourably on the plan to rezone farming land.

Mr Baillieu said there was a shortage of accommodation around some key tourism facilities and the developments could balance economic and environmental needs.

“Obviously you would do this in a very sensitive way,” he said. “I think that’s what’s evident in other jurisdictions. It can be done well, and it can be done sensitively.

“And if they can do it in other jurisdictions, I would have thought we can do it in Victoria.” Mayor Matt Makin said given the projected growth along the Great Ocean Road precinct, the planning amendment would ensure there was infrastructure to meet the demand.

“Failing to do so would have a more significant impact on the environment,” he said. “This is a long-term strategy that will hopefully come to fruition long after I’m gone and will hopefully help shore up jobs and the future of the region.”

Cr Makin said Baillieu’s comments signified that the state government was supportive of economic development in rural and regional areas.

“Ultimately we don’t want to put pressure on their decision, but that language is quite encouraging,” he said. “This has drawn a lot of media coverage lately and it signifies the importance of protecting the asset which is the Great Ocean Road precinct.”

The council rejected an independent planning panel’s recommendation to abandon the rezoning of sites on farmland west of Port Campbell and at the Peterborough airstrip, instead citing the need for future accommodation facilities.

The shire has earmarked land west of Port Campbell as a suitable site for a four-star resort while the Peterborough airstrip has potential for “aviation-related accommodation”.

Other sites given the green light for rezoning include Camp Cooriemungle, land on the banks of Lake Purrumbete, Timboon’s Berryworld, Glenormiston College and at Mount Elephant.

Land rejected as unsuitable included the Loch Ard Bed and Breakfast and sites on the Great Ocean Road at Princetown and near the Great Ocean Walk at Princetown east. The amendment has been referred to the Minister of Planning Matthew Guy for approval.

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