FC Leopold boosted by $1.57 million facility upgrade project

FC Leopold are set to reap the rewards of a $1.57 million facility upgrade project at Estuary Reserve, the club’s home ground.

Funding provided by the City of Greater Geelong Council and the Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund will enable the construction of a modular pavilion, which will include female friendly changerooms, as well as spaces for amenities, storage and social activities.

The Victorian Government will contribute $250,000 to the project with the remainder funded by the local council.

Co-founder of FC Leopold, Jared Larkins, was heavily involved the process of acquiring the grants needed to fund the proposal.

“For some time, we had been lobbying through various groups such as the City of Greater Geelong Council, as well as the local and federal members – to fund this project,” he told Soccerscene.

“We got out and attended our own drawings and we created plans to really envisage what we wanted the site to be.

“We really just kept on council’s back that we needed this upgrade as our club was ever-growing and our two-room facility just wasn’t fit for purpose for any of our members.

“When the World Game Facilities Fund came along it provided an opportunity for the City of Greater Geelong to get on board. They had another project in Geelong they wanted to make happen, so I think that also helped us significantly.”

Larkins is optimistic that barring any COVID related issues, FC Leopold members will be in their new digs before the end of 2022.

“We are hoping that site works begin in either September and October,” he said.

“We should be in them by the end of year, they are modular and being built off site and then they’ll drop them on site and they should be finished off within a couple of weeks.”

The club itself was established just five years ago in 2016, registering multiple senior men’s teams, a senior women’s side and a handful of junior teams.

Although it has a relatively short history, the club is set to be benefitted by the upgrades in a wide range of ways.

“In terms of the club, it will allow our younger members and female members a little bit more comfortability in changing and playing at the club,” Larkins said.

“The current facilities are not the friendliest or most inviting of spaces, and we did have some members who wouldn’t change at the club for that reason.

“I think it will make our club more inviting and allow us to hold functions, which is something we haven’t been able to do since our inception. That will obviously allow us to raise some more funds, as at the moment if we want to hold a function, we have to rent out another venue.

“It will also give the club a chance to generate revenue in general, through canteen revenue, various functions and things like that, and because of that hopefully the club can grow its membership base.”

FC Leopold wants to continue to engage with the community and believes the new facilities will provide the locals with an appropriate avenue to connect through sport.

“The area of Geelong and Leopold is growing quite rapidly and there’s soccer clubs fifteen minutes either side of where we are positioned, so it allows the local community a spot closer to home to be able to play and be active,” Larkins said.

The club has ambitions to grow further and expand in future years, but according to Larkins, that wouldn’t be possible if they didn’t receive these facility grants.

“I don’t think our club would have been able to grow further without it,” he said.

“Without these additional facilities, we would be capped at the number of teams we have now.

“We have already probably expanded too much for what we’ve got at the moment, in terms of things we own such as equipment (as we don’t have enough space to store it on site), so without these new facilities we wouldn’t grow.”



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

Clubs in Queensland will need to transition from EVA Check-In to the Queensland Government's Check In Qld app.

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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