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24 February 2021
Ararat Rural City Council leaders are hoping to secure more than $2-million in State Government money to help turn a Gordon Street Oval precinct into one of western Victoria’s premier sporting grounds.
Chief executive Tim Harrison said the council had been invited to apply for funding in the second round of the government’s Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus program.
“This is our best chance to get the entire redevelopment done,” he said.
“A $2.65-million grant would make a world of difference for our region – this funding from the State Government would accomplish in a year what would normally take a decade.
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“It’s ambitious but we want to see Ararat become regional Victoria’s official home of AFLW football and hopefully achieve state significance.”
The council has developed design plans for the multi-million-dollar project, which involves redeveloping the reserve to provide new playing fields and surfaces for AFL Women’s, soccer, cricket and Little Athletics activities.
The upgrade will also involve a new pavilion featuring ‘world class’ female-friendly change rooms and multi-code club facilities, plus a social space with kitchen and bar.
Dr Harrison said the redevelopment project was a result of conversations with leaders of community clubs looking for a permanent home.
“Sport is the lifeblood for every town in Ararat Rural City but some clubs simply don’t have access to the facilities they need to grow,” he said.
“The key elements of this project are looking at how we can build a new facility that is clearly about AFLW and not seeing AFLW as a secondary or subsidiary game.
“This facility will give the sport the prominence it deserves in the community.
“The centrepiece of the redevelopment is to provide a home ground for Ararat Storm Female Football Club by creating an AFLW centre of excellence.”
Council staff hosted community consultation sessions with various clubs earlier this month, including Ararat Storm, Chalambar and St Andrews cricket clubs, Grampians Cricket Association and Little Athletics.
This round of community consultations followed a co-design process the council undertook with regional club presidents and state sporting associations.
Dr Harrison said the project’s design represented the feedback and in-depth conversations, which identified a need to establish a premier sporting facility that was inclusive for a broad range of ages and abilities.
“In response to the Victorian ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, we moved our community consultation online,” he said.
“Having one-on-one workshops with local clubs allowed council to consider ideas and suggestions of facility upgrades that would best serve our local clubs.
“Each of the playing ovals and pitches are designed to align with the preferred facilities guidelines for each respective sporting code, in addition to the expectations of local clubs, user groups and state sporting associations.”
Dr Harrison said other precinct upgrades would include a new soccer-playing pitch, a junior soccer pitch, cricket turf pitches, a running track and track and field infrastructure for Little Athletics, in addition to a new state-of-the-art pavilion.
“Everyone aims to benefit,” he said.
“The turf on the oval is in great shape but we’re aiming to extend the north end of the field to adhere to AFL Victoria’s preferred size for state league facilities.
“The response from the consultations have been extremely positive – the clubs understand the significance behind the project and I’m proud to see our community work together to create an iconic sporting facility.”
AFL Wimmera Mallee regional manager Jason Muldoon said the Gordon Street precinct upgrade would be a ‘game-changer for female football, not only in the region but for the whole south-west region’.
“This facility will give every female footballer in the region the best opportunity to follow their dreams of playing in the AFLW,” he said.
“Ararat is geographically in the middle of the GWV Rebels recruiting zone – this upgrade allows development and talented pathways games to be played in Ararat.”
Dr Harrison said the council’s push for funding to deliver the project was supported by AFL Victoria, Football Victoria, Member for Western Victoria Jaala Pulford and regional sporting clubs.
The entire February 24, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
The entire February 24, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!