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    MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria and Sport Danielle Green cuts the ribbon to officially open a major Harrow and District Recreation Reserve redevelopment alongside, from left, interim West Wimmera chief executive Paul Brumby, Harrow Tennis Club president Troy Shrive, Harrow-Balmoral Football Netball Club president Tony Phelan and mayor Bruce Meyer.

Milestone Harrow celebration for new facilities

Harrow community is celebrating the official opening of a major sporting upgrade to replace facilities once described as ‘some of the worst in the state’.

In April 2018, West Wimmera Shire councillor Tom Houlihan welcomed a $1-million State Government contribution for a much-needed Harrow and District Recreation Reserve redevelopment.

He said the funding was the result of 10 years of lobbying to fix ‘the very worse facilities in the Horsham District league’, considered a ‘bloody disgrace – but not for a lack of trying’.

Their lobbying paid off, with construction underway in April 2019.

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Last week, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Victoria and Sport Danielle Green paid tribute to the community and associated sporting clubs on their ‘outstanding fundraising’ for the project.

Ms Green cut the ribbon at the official opening of the $1.35-million ‘Making a Difference’ project, $45,000 of which was raised by the community.

“On an individual level, the community has raised an amazing amount of $91 per resident for the project, which underlines how important this building is to them,” she said.

“We are very pleased to support this project through the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund 2018-19 and provide Harrow with a modern and practical space for their sports.

“Harrow and Balmoral locals are passionate about their sport, and the Harrow and District Recreation Reserve transformation will open up opportunities for the growing numbers of cricket, football, netball and tennis players to emulate their sports heroes like Johnny Mullagh in their own back yard.

“Clubs like the Southern Roos and Harrow Tennis Club have been hamstrung by outdated facilities – they deserve appropriate facilities they can be proud of.”

A new building overlooking tennis and netball courts comprises home-and-away change rooms, umpire change rooms, an all-abilities office, tea room, office, first-aid room, baby change room and a spacious undercover viewing area. 

A second building near the football oval boundary provides female-friendly home-and-away change rooms, umpire change rooms, an office and first-aid room.

Before the new pavilion was built, netballers were required to walk across to football change rooms to use the bathroom. 

West Wimmera mayor Bruce Meyer said the new change rooms were a ‘tremendous drawcard’ for sport and recreation lovers in the region.

“We are extremely thankful for the funding from all levels of government and AFL Victoria,” he said.

“The community funding is always critical to making these types of projects possible and Harrow and district should be very proud of their achievement.

“Cr Tom Houlihan, who is also president of the Harrow and District Recreation Reserve, was instrumental in lobbying and attracting the funding the council received in 2018 to complete the project with the Harrow community.”

Cr Meyer said football, netball and tennis were clearly the lifeblood of the Harrow sporting community.

“It is essential to provide them with amenities that are comfortable, well equipped and nearby to their grounds,” he said.

“These facilities will be a great area for spectators and team members to view games out of the weather and I am sure it will serve many other purposes for the community for years to come.”

The official opening marked the end of the first stage of a three-stage project the community is working to complete. 

Stage two involves redeveloping current football change rooms into storage and a gym. The community is still sourcing funding for stage three, which includes a resurfacing and lighting upgrade to the netball-tennis courts and a new play space.

The entire January 13, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!