Footy and netball’s $21.9m facility focus

Amenities for netballers are a key focus of the AFLCV Regional Strategy.
Amenities for netballers are a key focus of the AFLCV Regional Strategy.

Football and netball facilities in central Victoria require $21.9m worth of investment to cater for facility gaps and projected growth, according to an AFL Central Victoria report.

AFL Central Victoria launched its Regional Strategy at Canterbury Park on Friday.

Produced in consultation with AFL Victoria, Netball Victoria and the nine Local Government Authorities that comprise the AFLCV region, the 87-page Regional Strategy is focused on improving infrastructure to ensure participation rates grow.

An audit of 56 facilities across the AFLCV region showed most facilities required improvement to meet preferred football and netball local level facility provision.

Key findings of the audit included:

· More than 80 per cent of the region’s player and umpire change rooms do not cater for female participants;

· 17 per cent of venues with a main netball court have no netball player amenities;

· More than 50 per cent of the region’s facilities have no lighting or lighting below the minimum training standard.

The report identified four key priorities for the region:

1. Increase the quality and functionality and maximise the use and carrying capacity of existing facilities;

2. Plan and develop new facilities in key growth areas across the region, considering regional needs and talent pathways, program and competitions at key locations;

3. Support the capacity building of clubs and their people and their culture;

4. Continue to enhance the relationship between football, netball and government in the planning, provision and funding of facilities and programs.

The report identified the increased demands on venues, particularly for training.

A new non-cub aligned, possibly synthetic training venue and co-planning with regional schools about the development of school venues are options put forward in the report.

Elite pathway programs are also part of the report, with the opportunity to develop a sports precinct in partnership with the Bendigo Pioneers, La Trobe University and Netball Victoria high on the agenda.

The alliance between AFL club Richmond and the Bendigo Thunder women’s football club is also seen as an opportunity to improve facilities at the QEO.

“This investment could ultimately support AFL and AFL Women’s matches, while also addressing netball player amenity provision at the venue,’’ the report states.

AFLCV Commission chair Andrew Cooney said the Regional Strategy aimed to prioritise, identify and plan for the development of football and netball facilities.

“The strategy identifies gaps in current facility provision and opportunities to upgrade facilities based on current and projected participation rates,’’ Cooney said.

“We understand the important of sporting clubs to our communities. It is important that clubs have the facilities that they can be proud of.”