Bendigo Violet Street Primary School pitches for sports oval upgrade

BENDIGO Violet Street Primary School has several keen soccer players among its 180 students.

But you wouldn’t know it by looking at their outdoor playing areas, which don’t consist of an apparent soccer pitch.

School captain Thomas Daniels has called on Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters to help change that.

In a letter, penned last week, he outlined the need for the “atrocious heap of dirt and dust that our school accepts as a soccer pitch or oval” to be upgraded.

Quotes obtained by the school for the necessary improvements – which include a set of goals, grass, and irrigation – amount to at least $45,000.

The so-called 'soccer pitch' at Bendigo Violet Street Primary School. Students use the cricket nets and a gap between two picnic benches as the goals when playing soccer. Picture: NONI HYETT

The so-called 'soccer pitch' at Bendigo Violet Street Primary School. Students use the cricket nets and a gap between two picnic benches as the goals when playing soccer. Picture: NONI HYETT

Physical education teacher Steven Tooley said the oval’s condition had not dissuaded students from ‘having a go out there’ during recess and lunch times.

But he said the need for a cleaner and more playable surface was apparent.

“It would be great to see the students get a surface they can really enjoy,” Mr Tooley said.

He said an upgraded, multi-purpose sports oval would also add significant value to the physical education program for the whole school community.

Bendigo Violet Street Primary School principal Mandy Costello said she’d love to see the school with a brand new oval, but the cost of upgrading the facilities was prohibitive.

“Short of winning TattsLotto, I don’t know what else to do,” she said.

Mrs Costello said the school would be happy to partner with community organisations to make the project happen.

That’s an avenue Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters said she had been exploring as she searched for suitable funding programs.

“There’s no dedicated [federal] funding stream for this kind of upgrade,” she said.

Ms Chesters said she was investigating whether the Stronger Communities Program could be an option if the school partnered with a service club or local organisation on the project.

She said she had also contacted her state counterpart, Maree Edwards, about any applicable Victorian programs.

“This is an area of public policy that needs attention,” Ms Chesters said.

“People think this is just a state government responsibility – it’s not.”

The opposition member said the federal government was not shouldering its fair share of funding for the upkeep of state schools.

Ms Chesters said primary schools with fewer than 200 students were at a disadvantage when it came to expensive capital works projects.

“The school’s ability to fundraise is limited,” she said.

She has been aware Bendigo Violet Street Primary School has been seeking to upgrade its oval for at least a year, having been contacted by teacher and AFLW player Emma Grant during her first season at Collingwood.

Bendigo Violet Street Primary School captain Thomas Daniels on the sports oval. Picture: NONI HYETT

Bendigo Violet Street Primary School captain Thomas Daniels on the sports oval. Picture: NONI HYETT

Dear Lisa Chesters: This is why you should fix our school oval

30/5/2018

Lisa Chesters

Federal member for parliament

Dear MP, 

This is the school captain of Bendigo Violet Street Primary School expressing my opinion on the atrocious heap of dirt and dust that our school accepts as a soccer pitch or oval. 

I believe that, as school captain I have the right to change this. When children walk out for recess and lunch to have a snack or play they expect an actual oval, not the lump that I previously explained. 

I believe we should turn our dirt into an oval. Why? Well first the health hazards, there’s encouragement for children to keep fit and healthy and our pitch is also just a bad look for our school.

To begin with, our oval should get a makeover because it would prevent health related issues. 

There are many hazardous things about our oval. Take the wire sticking out at the cricket nets we use as goals. When a goalkeeper attempts a save he/she sometimes gets caught on the wire, causing either him/herself to trip over. People do not feel safe when goalkeeping. They worry about landing on the dangerous wire. 

Another reason that our oval is an issue for health is the hard surface of weeds and clay that we use. A landing is much more painful compared to a soft grass surface. This has ended in grazes, broken bones and bad bruises. Those are just two of the many health related reasons for our soccer pitch to have a makeover. 

Fitness, and I’m sure that you’d agree, fitness is vital to student’s life. Dusty, injury prone ovals do not encourage that. Students DO NOT want to play on an oval like this. They want to enjoy their time. 

With a clean oval, they will feel much more obliged to exercise. That is just the oval! The makeshift goals we use from cricket net poles and benches or the boundaries, the logs and trees are appalling. No one should have to accept this at all!

From another person’s point of view, our oval may seem more like a collection of dust then what we use it as. This is what it may seem like…         

To people looking for school enrolments: “Wow, look at that lump, how they use that, I don’t know. We should definitely not pick that school for our kids” See what I mean? It gives our wonderful school a bad reputation. 

I have discussed this issue with Mrs Costello, the school’s principal, and she too agrees that we should take action. 

I understand that cost would be the largest barrier so we were wondering if there were any funds available as from several enquires we have received the minimum (for goals, grass and irrigation) at $45 000. 

- Thomas Daniels, School captain at Bendigo Violet Street P.S