Golden Plains to receive additional $465,000 grant for facilities upgrade

The Golden Plains Shire Council will receive an additional $465,535 from the State Government to develop its football facilities at the Bannockburn Recreation Reserve.

The grant is part of The World Game Facilities Fund and will add to the Federal Government’s $832,000 commitment, meaning the overall funding for the project will reach in excess of $1.29 million.

The Golden Plains Soccer Club will be the beneficiaries of the funding, which will be used to construct two new female friendly change rooms, a referee’s change room, first aid room, 100 lux sports pitch lights, perimeter fencing, and storage services for the recently constructed second soccer pitch at the venue.

Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney, made the announcement and highlighted the importance of modernising facilities to cater for rising demand.

“Football is booming in Victoria and we’re expecting growing numbers of boys and girls, men and women to sign up to play at local clubs, however many clubs are struggling with inadequate facilities,” Tierney said.

The Golden Plains Soccer Club is located 23km from Geelong, Victoria and has experienced a steady growth in participation rates, particularly among women and girls in the region.

“The Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund is getting it done for the Golden Plains Soccer Club, providing more opportunities for passionate football fans to play the sport they love,” Tierney said.

Bannockburn Recreational Reserve has already experienced several upgrades over recent years with more than $3 million in funding helping to transform the venue into a leading regional football facility.

Golden Plains Shire Mayor Owen Sharkey was also pleased by the government’s willingness to invest in the region, stating it was a major boost those already playing the sport and also those wishing to get involved.

“The Golden Plains Soccer Club has an enthusiastic membership of male and female junior and senior players from many towns in the south of our shire, and the new change rooms and lights will further support participation in soccer in Golden Plains,” Cr Sharkey said.

Football Victoria champions its advancements for women’s football in 2023 Annual Report

Football Victoria (FV) released the 2023 Annual Report, detailing their efforts and successes last year.

In a massive year for women’s football, Football Victoria led the way in delivering improvements in both participation and infrastructure for the women’s game.

The Andrews-Allen State Government has invested an unprecedented $400 million towards developing Victoria’s football facilities over the past five years, however, 2023 would see a major push for the construction of female football facilities, as well as upgrading existing spaces to become more female-friendly.

Typifying this push was the completion of the ‘Home of the Matildas’ centre, which was constructed as part of the La Trobe University Sports Park project. The centre opened in July last year and has instantly become a symbol of women’s football and the Matildas efforts in 2023.

Again, the State Government set records, putting $42.29 million towards its construction – the largest donation ever made by any level of government for a football-specific project nationally. The centre boasts state-of-the-art football pitches (grass and artificial), twelve changerooms, a fully-equipped gym and wet recovery centre, medical facilities, and corporate spaces.

The facility has already been utilised for local, regional, national and international events, and will be the cornerstone of Football Victoria’s future efforts, serving as its official headquarters.

Further mentioned was the creation of 14 council-supported “Social Football Hubs” across the state, contributing to the enormous growth in summer football participation for females – reaching nearly 6,000 compared to just 1,900 in 2022.

Also in infrastructure, the report triumphs its involvement in revitalising recreational spaces in Ballarat. At an estimated spend of $16 million, the Victoria Park Sport & Community Facility and Wendouree West Recreation Reserve projects were completed in 2023, and Football Victoria believes this will provide the highest-quality football experience for the community.

There is less mentioned in the report about the present growth of football facilities in other regional centres, with the report mentioning that State government budgetary measures may hinder its plans in the short term.

Then-acting CEO, Karen Pearce OAM, commented on the federation’s endeavours regarding regional football within the report.

“We are currently undertaking a Regional Review to determine an optimal operating model to improve the function, efficiency, capacity, and overall football experience in regional Victoria,” she wrote via the report.

“The review has explored all key components of the football ecosystem, with some key findings currently underway.”

There is a long-term plan to construct ‘regional hubs’ consisting of 4-6 pitches and state-of-the-art facilities in the outer suburbs and rural centres of Victoria, including a redevelopment of the Gippsland Sports and Entertainment Centre in Sale.

The concentrated effort to improve football infrastructure has benefitted participation in the sport, with player registrations totalling at 82,945.

There were 4,229 teams from Metropolitan and Geelong areas that entered into community competitions last year, with player registration numbers totalling just under 54,000. The popularity of football amongst children remains strong, with 75% of this figure represented by Miniroos and juniors, with the remainder made up of seniors and over 35’s.

In addition, there was a 41% increase in coaching participation compared to 2022, and twice as much engagement between coaches and the federation on social media. This is owing to Football Victoria’s “Club Coach Coordinator Gala Day”, which championed greater access to coaching resources and accreditation.

Referee participation is less publicised across national media channels, but their importance to the growth of the game is crucial. Football Victoria has continued to invest in its refereeing facilities and academies, which helped see an increase of 350 referees compared to 2022. This includes a 50% increase in female referees.

Its accreditation and pathway programs has led to six match officials being selected on the FIFA panel – 17 reaching the A-League – and a further three joining the Football Australia Referee Academy. There were a further 67 officials who joined the successful Victorian Referee Academy in 2023.

Given the widespread success it has reported, Football Victoria will be challenged to sustain this momentum. Its efforts will have triggered interest from future sponsors and businesses, whose potential investment will play a key role in the expansion effort; especially if government spending is to be reduced.

Football Victoria President, Antonella Care, thanked the organisations current partners and sponsors in the report for their contributions.

“Our game would not survive without the support of partners at all levels of the game,” Care stated in the report.

“I would also like to thank FV’s proud sponsors for their dedication to football, and also pass on my gratitude to the many businesses who sponsor Clubs and allow them to reinvest into the game.”

Football Victoria’s improvements in participation and infrastructure – thanks to support from sponsors and government agencies – exemplify the state’s reputation as the national leader in football expansion.

Mitre extends with member federations to provide top quality footballs for all competitions

Mitre have extended their current deals with Football Victoria, Football West and Football NSW to continue providing their Ultimax Pro ball for competitions country wide.

Football Victoria announced that Mitre will continue as the exclusive NPL ball provider for the NPL and VPL competitions in 2024 with an option to extend into 2025.

In Football NSW, the sponsorship with Mitre will extend till the end of 2026. It will remain as the Official Match Ball of the National Premier Leagues NSW, Football NSW Leagues, Football NSW Youth Leagues, and Association Youth Leagues for a further three years.

Football West confirmed that Mitre will be the Official Ball Supplier for another three years, taking the partnership to a total of six years.

Trusted for over 200 years, Mitre footballs have been a foundation of the brand since the early 1900s. Since then, they have been the competition ball of choice for many football associations across the world.

In 2017, Mitre started inside the Australian footballing landscape when they were unveiled as the football partners of the then FFA Cup, now called the Australia Cup.

Since then, Mitre has expanded towards the state member federations to try and grow amongst the local community. They are the Official Match Ball of NPL NSW, NPL Victoria, NPL Queensland, Football West and NPL NNSW.

The Ultimax Pro is Mitre’s flagship Elite-Professional football that is used amongst state competitions and the Australia Cup. It features Hyperflow debossed grooves across the ball, for incredible flight consistency across all speeds. It is Engineered with Hyperfoam, a cushioned, high elastic foam, for maximum power when you strike.  It is also a FIFA Quality Pro approved football which proves that it maintains a top quality and standard.

Football Victoria Sponsorships and Events Manager, Paul Iliopoulos, outlined this is a ‘game changing partnership’ going into the 2024 season and beyond

“We are thrilled to announce a partnership between Football Victoria and MITRE as the official ball provider for our NPL and VPL competitions,” he said via FV.

“The MITRE ball is recognised for its superior quality and performance and this partnership reinforces Football Victoria’s dedication to maintaining the utmost standards in our competitions.

“As we embark on this exciting journey with MITRE, we extend our gratitude to the football community for their continued support.”

Football West General Manager of Football Perry Ielati was excited to continue with the high-quality footballs through this partnership.

“Football West is delighted to continue our partnership with Mitre. Our clubs know they can trust the quality of footballs provided by Mitre and that is hugely important to us. We are excited to move forward together over the next three years.” Ielati stated via Football West.

Football NSW CEO John Tsatsimas was thrilled to see Mitre extend as well.

“We’re delighted to continue the partnership with Mitre. We are anticipating another season of unprecedented success, and we eagerly look forward to achieving it in partnership with Mitre who will provide a great level of professionalism through their product as they have done so in recent years.” Tsatsimas said via Football NSW statement.

Mitre’s relationship with Football in Australia is fantastic for the game with the highest quality footballs being used at all different levels. Ball quality is an integral part of football and clubs from all federations will benefit from the discounted prices and free supplies that Mitre provide to improve the game.

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