Box Hill United receives green light for $2.8 million facility upgrade project

Box Hill United are set to benefit from a $2.8 million facility upgrade project at the club’s training base at Sparks Reserve, with works set to begin in September of this year.

The project will include the construction of a new satellite pavilion which will have four female-friendly changerooms, referee changerooms, a canteen, a first aid room, a storage room, public toilets and a covered external concourse for spectator viewing.

The Whitehorse City Council are funding the majority of the upgrades, with the state government tipping in $500,000 through the World Game Facilities Fund.

President of Box Hill United, George Petheriotis, welcomed the upgrades, which he explained had been in the works for the past few years.

“It was something we were working on with our council for many years,” he told Soccerscene.

“The club’s been around for almost 100 years and it’s never had appropriate facilities at Sparks Reserve. We’ve got a fantastic complex at Wembley Park across the road, but at Sparks Reserve (which is our training ground) we haven’t had the right facilities.

“The club has continued to grow over the years and we needed the facilities upgraded because it was too far for players of any age to walk over to Wembley Park to use amenities and so forth.

“Because of the growth of football and women’s football in the area, council got to a point where it acknowledged that the facilities needed to be updated, which was fantastic.”

With the female friendly changerooms a major part of the facility upgrades, Petheriotis explained how important it was for the club to have a true home for all types of football players.

“It’s of paramount importance. The club was really struggling to function without changerooms and attract players, especially female players,” he said.

“People don’t just want to roll up and train on a piece of land and go home, they want to go to a place where they want to be at and spend some time at. This includes the parents who come and drop off their kids, and want to hang around and have a look at training.

“Now, they’ll have that area to observe, purchase something from the canteen and so forth.”

The club, but also the local community, are set to be the big winners of the $2.8 million project.

“The benefits for the club include the good it will do for our players, who are very committed to their own football development,” Petheriotis stated.

“Being a premier NPL club for both men and women, they get access to warm changerooms, showers and places which are comfortable. We are finally getting a facility which makes the club feel like home, rather than just an open piece of land.

“In terms of the community, it cleans up the area. It makes it look more attractive and is safer, through pathways, driveways, parking, lighting and gardens, so it really makes the area look a lot nicer and more accessible.”

Alongside the upgrades project, which is set to be completed by June of next year, the club have recently received lighting upgrades at Wembley Park through council and state government funding, allowing the club to host night games.

The 200 LUX lighting upgrades came at a total cost of around $550,000.

Despite this, Box Hill are still looking for further necessary upgrades, which will look to take the club to the next level and move them towards an even brighter future.

“We are (looking for more upgrades). Along with the clubrooms that are being built now, I believe the final piece of the puzzle for Sparks Reserve is a hybrid synthetic surface,” Petheriotis said.

“We are not a club that is a summer or winter sport, we are an all-year soccer club that trains its players for 48 weeks of the year, so the hybrid surface is necessary. We have players from the age of four to seniors in both men and women, and they need a ground they can train on for the entire year.

“Unfortunately, as much as we all want grass, the grass doesn’t hold up for the whole year, so a hybrid synthetic is something that we need there to secure the club’s future as a premier development club.

“We want to keep kids off the street and play the game they love so they can aspire to be professionals. We know it’s very hard to achieve but we want to provide a place where people can strive to achieve their dreams.”

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Diamond Valley United receive $650,000 facility upgrade boost

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Diamond Valley United are set to receive new female-friendly change rooms in the coming weeks, after receiving a significant amount of funding from Banyule City Council and the Victorian Government.

The local council has put $400,000 towards the upgrades at Partington Flats, whilst the Victorian Government has put forward $250,000 through their World Game Facilities Fund.

The works are set to begin in the next couple of weeks, with the upgrades to be ready for the new season in 2022.

President of Diamond Valley United, Mark O’Shea, explained the growth of the female side of the game at the club helped the cause for the eventual upgrades to the clubrooms.

“The overall push for female facilities was pretty much driven by the local Banyule Council,” O’Shea told Soccerscene.

“The team at Banyule Council came down to speak with us, and asked what we needed as a club around 3-4 years ago. At that time, new changerooms were our number one priority, alongside other facilities which needed to be upgraded.

“Four years ago, we had one female team, but now we have around seven – so I guess the growth over time on the female side of the club drove the council to take action and get the clubrooms upgraded.”

O’Shea believes the upgrades will have a huge benefit for females involved in the club, who don’t feel comfortable in using the amenities currently.

“The changerooms we have been using are about 35 years old and aren’t really female friendly at all,” he said.

“So, we are turning our changerooms from two into four.

“It allows us to have much more appropriate female friendly facilities. They are all currently old-school open showers and females can’t shower there and use the changeroom properly.

“Having the four changerooms will allow us to cope with the number of teams we have on the female side, but also they will be great spaces for everyone at our club.”

The hope is that the new facilities will create new opportunities for the club to further connect with the wider community.

“We share our club with schools and other groups, so having those female friendly facilities opens up some new avenues for us to share our facilities with new community groups and schools,” O’Shea said.

The pandemic has affected the club in recent times, like most sporting organisations across Australia, but a strong rebound is expected according to the club president.

“There’s no way we could afford to do the upgrades ourselves, COVID has had a massive effect on all sporting groups in the last two years,” he said.

“Our numbers have gone down around 30-40% when it comes to juniors, but in saying that we do expect a big bounce back from a lot of kids at the other side of the pandemic.

“I think parents are keen to get kids out of their homes and off their iPads. Having those facilities at our club will also allow us to take on another 5 or 6 more female teams, which is fantastic.”

Alongside the new clubrooms, further upgrades will look to leave Diamond Valley United in good stead in the long term.

“We’ve been working with council and we are looking to do a lighting upgrade which is due for the next financial year,” O’Shea said.

“Following that, we are getting our ground reconfigured and resurfaced. These upgrades will be great for the future of our club.”



Northern Falcons FC boosted by lighting upgrades from World Game Facilities Fund

Northern Falcons Football Club will receive a substantial lighting upgrade at their home ground in Preston, through a grant received from the Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund.

The World Game Facilities Fund committed $3.8 million to 11 community football facility projects this year, one of them being the lighting upgrades at GH Mott Reserve.

President of the Northern Falcons Football Club, Frank Pizzo, explained the process behind the club’s push to secure the funding.

“We were advised of the grants being available by our local Darebin council,” he told Soccerscene.

“We were discussing with the council (along with Darebin Falcons Women’s Football Club – who we share the facility with) for quite a number of months about how we could get the lighting upgrades. Both clubs were screaming for extra training and facility space for our players.

“There are currently no lights at that facility, so during the winter you can’t train on it. It just doesn’t get the use we could get out of it.

“The council eventually said put in a proposal with the World Game Facilities Fund and see how we go with that, so we started that process with their help and the rest is history.”

The works are set to begin next month according to Pizzo, with a completion date of March of next year.

He believes the upgrades will have a whole range of benefits for not only the club, but also the local community.

“The benefits are going to be amazing,” he said.

“To put it into context, we probably knocked back in excess of 80 kids last year – boys and girls, who we couldn’t accommodate at our main venue.

“There are just no other venues available, so basically the kids weren’t able to play. The massive benefit is that we can get more kids to play the game we love.

“We are also now looking to use the revamped facility as a base for our intellectually disabled team. Currently, that team trains on Tuesday night in a little area on the pitch, which is not really enough.

“We’re now going to be able to give them the facilities they need. A safe facility with recently renovated clubrooms, but now also a pitch with good lighting to train on.

“In terms of the community, they will be able to use the facility as well – it is not just our ground, it is a community facility. There will be a spill over of football activities and other activities at the ground such as cricket. For the community, it’s great for them that they have access to a facility on a 24-hours a day, seven days a week basis.”

The club itself has a strong history and reputation in the local area, something which Pizzo himself has been a huge part of.

“I’ve been involved in the club since its inception in the late 80’s,” he said.

“I was a player at the club, then an administrator, a coach, and I’ve been president for the last 10 years. I’ve got a really strong emotional attachment to the club; my dad was one of the founders of the club. My involvement as president is a fairly consuming, but rewarding role.

“The club has grown in the past five years, from just having seniors and a couple of junior teams, to having 21 junior teams including five women’s teams. It’s grown from being a club with 200 members to a club with 550-600 members, it’s a massive job but I love it.”

The club wants to continue its growth and hopes further pitch redevelopments at its home sites will help with that.

“We would like to have a pitch redevelopment at GH Mott Reserve and we’ve had discussions with council about that already,” he said.

“At our main reserve at Hayes Park, we would love to have some sort of artificial pitch put in there somewhere and we hope we can continue having positive discussions across the board to reach both of these outcomes.”

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