25 Feb The Dick Barnard Sporting Scholarship
Written by Bridget Fagan
The Dick Barnard Sporting Scholarship is a celebration of indigenous women in sport and of field hockey as a whole. The scholarship is awarded annually (or when applicable) to a female indigenous student at The University of Sydney who is a member of the Hockey Elite Athlete Program with SUSF. The scholarship helps with academic and sporting costs in the year of being awarded.
The namesake of the scholarship, Richard was born and raised in Canberra, ACT. The youngest of four sons, Richard’s childhood was classically Australian – vegetables were homegrown, eggs collected from their chooks, hand-chopped wood fuelled the kitchen stove, the weekends brought deliveries of milk, bread and ice for their cool box; lazy summer evenings were spent throwing darts on the family porch or cycling through the streets, winters were spent bundling thick layers to keep warm against cold linoleum floors. Richard’s parents worked hard to care for their boys, instilling in them a deep appreciation for education and passion for sport.
Richard’s athleticism was revealed in his early days of rugby union where his speed proved him a formidable winger. For many years, rugby was his dominant sport but Richard had a love for hockey that would later lead him to spend more and more time on the turf. Growing up in Canberra, Richard attended his local high school and graduated with results earning him a place at the University of Sydney as well as two scholarships to support his study – the Canberra Scholarship and the Commonwealth Scholarship. Richard excitedly stepped into this next chapter but was always conscious of its fortune, having many friends in Canberra who did not receive the same opportunities.
While at USYD, Richard resided at Wesley College, playing both rugby and field hockey at a representative level as he completed his Bachelor of Science. Richard excelled as a hockey forward, running circles around defenders and scoring with ease. His determination was infectious and in 1959 he captained the USYD A-grade hockey team to an incredible victory at the Intervarsity Championship – despite having many members from lower grades filling in for key positions. It was a whopping 52 years until another USYD team was able to re-claim the intervarsity title outright (tied with WA in 1961).
It was during this time at SUHC and Wesley College that Richard also came to know the late Bruce Pryor – a man that would become his teammate, mentor, and best friend. Bruce and Richard shared a zeal for hockey, one that would carry them beyond the field and into the realm of sport philanthropy.
After graduating from The University of Sydney, Richard returned to Canberra where he worked for 31 years at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. He then moved to Brisbane with his wife where he currently lives and (still!) works.
Central to all of Richard’s experiences is an acute awareness and appreciation toward the impact of his scholarships in enabling him to achieve all that he has today. Through scholarships, he was able to take that first step into university. And from that first step, he was able to attain exceptional education, extend himself as an athlete, form lifelong friendships and be in the position he is in now, where he can give back to the community.
Richard grew up in Canberra with three brothers and hardworking parents. He walked to and from school every day and at dusk, waited on rope swings strewn between great eucalyptus branches at the front of his house for the sight of his Dad cycling up the street. He got a scholarship and the rest is history. But for many around him – and many still today – that opportunity never came. Richard was always conscious of the gender gap in sport and of how difficult it is to attain avenues for higher education in regional and indigenous communities. Recognising the privilege of his own experiences and inspired by the generosity of Bruce and his benefactors, Richard has created this scholarship to celebrate and spotlight the incredible talent of indigenous women in sport, and to make a contribution towards bringing our community one step closer to closing gender and racial gaps.
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