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.”