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.

Manningham United Blues FC boosted by $300,000 grant for LED lighting upgrades

Manningham United Blues FC have received a $300,000 funding grant which will be used for lighting upgrades at the club’s home at Timber Ridge Reserve.

The funding has been provided through a partnership between the local Manningham Council and the Victorian Government, through their World Game Facilities Fund.

The upgrades will see a new 50 LUX LED floodlight system installed at the ground in the coming months, consisting of 4 new LED lighting towers which will light up two full size pitches and a small side pitch at the reserve.

President of Manningham United Blues FC, Mark Giuliani, believes the new upgrades will have a positive impact on the local community.

“Looking at the wider community, the new system will have a significant effect in reducing the lighting-up of neighbouring backyards,” he told Soccerscene.

“Obviously, the lighting system we have now is pretty old and it just sprays light everywhere, whereas LED lighting is very accurate and precise.

“So, in terms of the local residents, that will be the number one benefit for them as they won’t have their backyards impacted.”

The club will also benefit significantly from the improved lighting system in the years to come.

“In terms of us, there’s numerous things I think we are going to benefit from,” Giuliani said.

“One main benefit is definitely the financial aspect, the system we have now is pretty old and each year we spend at least $1000 on globe replacements.

“The running costs will also be better off now that the lights are LED and this will be an important financial gain for us.

“On top of that, we will definitely get a much more even spread and better lighting on that facility now, rather than what we’ve got in the past.”

Giuliani explained that under the new lights, night games will soon be allowed to be hosted at the club’s home ground, which hasn’t been permitted in the past.

This, however, will only apply up to a certain competition grade and will depend on the LUX it will provide.

“We were offered the option to chip in some extra funding to bring it up to a certain LUX for NPL games, but at the moment the club is not in a financial position to make that extra investment,” he said.

“It is however NPL ready, so all the wirings and powering, the lighting towers, the fixtures up in the towers, they will all be ready if we want to upgrade to host NPL games.”

The senior male team currently competes in NPL2 after securing promotion to the NPL system in recent years.

Manningham itself, has a strong, yet relatively recent history. After humble beginnings in 1999 with only a few junior teams initially, the club merged with Fawkner Blues SC in recent years and now has 39 teams and around 2000 members.

The club has now become the biggest community club in Manningham through factors such as their female program, which continues to expand across the board.

Facilities have been key to their growth and alongside the announcement of the new lighting setup, the club has received recent clubroom upgrades at Timber Ridge Reserve, through funding from the local council.

“We have also just had a recent upgrade to our Timber Ridge Reserve, in terms of our clubrooms – it was a $300,000 upgrade which was funded through Manningham Council, which we are extremely thankful for,” Giuliani said.

Since 2018, the World Game Facilities Fund has invested $13.2 million in 48 game-changing infrastructure projects with a total value of more than $41 million. The next round of the World Game Facilities Fund will open for applications in August 2021.

For more information visit: sport.vic.gov.au/grants-and-funding/our-grants/world-game-facilities-fund

Referee Recognition Week underway for Northern NSW Football

Beginning Monday July 19 and ending Sunday July 25, Northern NSW Football’s Newcastle Permanent Referee Recognition Week is dedicated to advocating for respect of match officials.

Motivated by the sole aim of providing the football community with the chance to express their gratitude and appreciation for referees and their assistants, Referee Recognition Week is NNSW Football’s annual celebration of match officials.

In addition, the week also acts as a reminder that match officials are intrinsic members of the football community who are to be respected by players, coaches, volunteers and supporters.

Referee weekNNSW Football Head of Football Development Peter Haynes explains that the initiative, which is planned alongside NNSW Football’s long-term community partner Newcastle Permanent, aimed to put a spotlight on the contributions of match officials across Northern NSW whilst encouraging members of the football community to demonstrate their appreciation.

“Officiating a match is often a thankless task. But without our referees we wouldn’t be able to play our beautiful game,” Haynes said.

“Referees and assistant referees play a key role in not just allowing players to go out and play but also keeping our players safe. Then there are our referee assessors and coaches who are also such a vital part of our sport as they help teach and educate our referees of the future.

“We encourage all our members to show their respect and appreciation towards our referees during the week, particularly thanking them for their efforts in ensuring a safe environment, underlined by a sense of fair play, for everyone.”

Newcastle Permanent supports match officials throughout the season through its monthly Community Recognition Awards Program, where a referee from each of Northern NSW Football’s seven Member Zones are recognised for their outstanding contribution.

Newcastle Permanent’s Chief Customer Experience and Delivery Officer Paul Juergens adds that continued recognition of match officials is a step in the right direction to respecting them for the work they do.

“We know referees and match officials play a vital role in community football,” Juergens said.

“They’re not only responsible for keeping players safe and making sure the rules of the game are followed but they also help create a great experience for players and spectators.

“Newcastle Permanent is proud to shine a light on their importance and contribution through our monthly Community Recognition Awards program. And this week, as part of our annual Referee Recognition Week campaign, we invite the football community to join in and say thanks.”

Northern NSW Football will acknowledge referees throughout the week at northernnswfootball.com.au and through its social media channels.

Casey Comets treated to new female friendly pavilion facilities

A brand new female friendly pavilion has been completed at the home of Casey Comets, made possible by Victorian Government grants.

Situated in the heart of Cranbourne, the upgrade is part of a $954,000 investment to create two additional female friendly changerooms at the existing soccer pavilion, which has two cubicle showers, two cubicle toilets and two basins for each changeroom.

The upgrades also feature the construction of a female friendly referee room, that includes changeroom space, cubicle shower, cubicle toilet, one basin and an additional storeroom.

The project also saw four existing changerooms undergo a major refurbishment to create more female friendly spaces.

Other current facilities, including the referee change room, storerooms, community room, male and female toilets and baby change room were also renovated, while LED lighting was installed in and around the spaces.

The participation rate in Cranbourne and its surrounding suburbs have seen significant growth over many years, with these latest updates a positive step to match this demand.

City of Casey Chair of Administrators Noelene Duff acknowledged how essential the upgrades were for the community, which will further increase women’s participation in sport.

“I am very proud to deliver these facilities and hope it encourages even more local women and girls to get involved with their local sporting club,” Duff said.

“I look forward to hearing about the positive impact this space has on the Casey Comets Football Club, the facility’s other user groups and the broader Cranbourne community, over the years to come.”

The project demonstrates Council’s commitment to putting the community at the forefront of future planning. The funding was delivered in partnership between the City of Casey and the Victorian Government, who contributed a total of $250,000 from the Female Friendly Facilities Fund, with Council’s own contribution of $704,000.

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