Donations pour into club after vandalism

June 22, 2024 BY

Formed in April, the Portarlington Table Tennis Club provides locals with an opportunity to come together, socialise and have a laugh while playing a friendly game. Photos: FACEBOOK/PORTARLINGTON TABLE TENNIS

THE community has rallied around a newly formed sporting club after it was vandalised last week, generously donating equipment and funds to help it reopen its doors.

The Portarlington Table Tennis Club, active since April 20, had its premises in Smythe Street broken into on Thursday last week and more than $3,000 worth of equipment stolen.

Windows were smashed, walls were damaged, and four of the club’s five table tennis tables were stolen, along with bats and balls.

It marks the second time the club has been the victim of theft, after about $300 worth of equipment was stolen on the same evening the club first opened.

Club founder Fabian Barrios, who paid for the equipment himself, said the theft had “devastated” the club’s members.

“It was really a kick in the guts for me. I took it really personally,” he said.

Windows at the club’s premises were smashed and walls were damaged last week during the break in.


Unable to afford to outlay the cost of the stolen items, Mr Barrios turned to the community for help to raise the funds required to get the club back on its feet.

With a generous donation of $2,500 from the Portarlington Golf Club and Community Bank Portarlington, the pledge of fundraising support from the local Lions Club’s incoming president, along with local residents who have donated both money and equipment, the club is already looking to reopen.

“The whole idea of the table tennis club is purely to bring people together… and I’m just grateful for the fact that so many people and businesses in the Portarlington area have come together and just said ‘No, listen, it’s not going to end like this’,” Mr Barrios said.

“The money that we’re going to get is just going to get us across the line to reset what we had with an alarm in it, so that’s fantastic for us.

“We’re truly blessed.”

Four of the club’s five table tennis tables, all financed by founder Fabian Barrios, were stolen.


He said the community’s generosity had inspired him to reach out to more people and encourage them to come along, give table tennis a try and join the club which sees local residents of all ages and abilities meet twice a week to socialise and play a friendly game together. “I’m not in it to make a profit. I’m just in it to watch people have fun. For me, I get my kicks out of that: people laughing, having fun.

“[The support shows the community] appreciated what we were setting up there and that’s what’s encouraged me…moreso than before, to really make something of it.”

Mr Barrios is now planning to launch free table tennis sessions for teenagers and is also eager to support interested community members who might not be able to afford the club’s weekly playing costs, encouraging them to contact him for a chat.

To contribute to the fundraiser, head to gofundme.com/f/portarlington-table-tennis-club, or to join the Portarlington Table Tennis Club, contact Mr Barrios on 0401 589 928.