Northern NSW Football have today launched its Infrastructure Strategy for Northern Inland to facilitate investment in football facilities. Clubs and participants deserve to have access to fit for purpose venues that are safe, welcoming and support the growth of the region’s largest club-based sport.
The strategy prioritises projects to ensure investment in football facilities targets areas of most need.
Northern Inland is Northern NSW Football’s largest member zone geographically, comprising approximately 4,500 registered players. This is an increase of 30 per cent compared to last year, with 28 per cent of registered players female.
But facilities in the region do not match football’s current size or potential future growth, with a NNSWF audit revealing that 63 per cent of fields do not have lighting. Of the fields that have lighting, only 33 per cent meet the minimum standard for training.
Only 13 of the 28 football venues have player changerooms and a mere five cater for match officials. The fact that more than half of the venues do not have any changerooms is a significant issue for the growing number of female players.
Four out of five fields also have no drainage. But on a positive note, more than half of fields have automated irrigation.
Marius Street Playing Fields at Tamworth, Narrabri’s Gately Field, Coonabarabran Oval, Ron Harborne Oval at Moree and Wee Waa’s Cook Oval have been identified as priority projects as part of the Infrastructure Strategy. Various improvements have been proposed including upgraded amenities, lighting installation, surface upgrades and improved facilities.
NNSWF CEO David Eland said it was imperative that football facilities were upgraded in the Northern Inland region.
“Football has the highest overall participation rate of club-based sport for children in the Northern Inland local government areas so it is vital that we fight to get these kids the facilities they need,” Eland said.
“Increasing capacity at existing venues while supporting the development of all gender facilities over the next decade will be a focus in current and future strategic planning.
“NNSWF is committed to working with the relevant local government authorities to secure increased funding. NNSWF applauds the state government’s increased focus on improving community sporting facilities.”
NNSWF Northern Inland Regional Coordinator Toby McVey said there had been confirmation recently of how badly infrastructure upgrades were needed in the region.
“We’ve just lost four weeks of football to rain up here because the situation surrounding pitches with drainage and floodlights issues is dire,” McVey said.
“Only 10 per cent of our fields have drainage with 90 per cent of our 84 playing fields considered to have no functional drainage.
“While only 37 per cent of our playing fields are floodlit, with only 33 per cent of those meeting the 50 lux training standard. Meaning once games get washed out, we are unable to reschedule them.
“And only four of our 28 venues provide suitable all gender change facilities for players. With almost 1,500 female players this level of provision does not support the current use or future growth in female players in our game.”
Northern NSW Football launched its state-wide Infrastructure Strategy, designed to address the need for significant investment in facilities over the next 10 years, along with Football NSW in October last year.
The strategy aims to upgrade crucial infrastructure across the state including lighting, pitches and changing facilities.