Shelters show room for change

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Temporary facilities for netballers at Bendigo’s premier sporting venue have highlighted the need for more permanent solutions.

Marquees have served as change rooms at the Queen Elizabeth Oval during the Bendigo Football Netball League finals, which culminate on Saturday.

The league has also provided gazebos over the players’ benches, and portaloos.

Cath Robertson has been championing a push for improved facilities at the venue and said the temporary structures reflected what was needed to better conditions for female athletes.

She called on the City of Greater Bendigo to get a move on with plans for permanent solutions.

“There is money on the table to get grants,” she said. 

“I don’t see why we should miss out because the council aren’t prepared.”

BFNL Manager Carol Cathcart said the league was working closely with the council to gradually improve its facilities, and had been doing so for a number of years.

She organised the extra amenities for the finals.

“The players just need somewhere to change that is reasonably close to the courts,” Ms Cathcart said.

The shelters were also important in the event of inclement weather, she said. 

She expects more than 6000 people will attend the grand finals on Saturday. 

This is not the first year temporary change rooms, toilets and shelters have been provided. 

Ms Cathcart said site offices were used last year, but the weather was too wet to put them in place this year.

Rose Gallagher, a Sandhurst netball coach, said the lack of facilities at the QEO for female athletes had been an issue for years and improvements were “a long time coming.”

Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters last month launched a petition for the federal government to invest in central Victorian sporting clubs. 

She linked to the petition in a social media post on Saturday, calling for equality for country women in sport.

The post featured photographs of the temporary women’s netball facilities at the QEO. 

An award-winning master plan for Rosalind Park Recreation Reserve states new netball facilities at the Queen Elizabeth Oval are a high priority, to be completed within five years. 

But council staff have told the Bendigo Advertiser they were “not a priority” because “existing female change facilities are already provided.”

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