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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.”
With 166 member nations of FIFA voting to explore the concept of a two-year cycle for the World Cup, questions need to be asked whether too much of a good thing will destroy what makes the competition special.
One of the best parts of the World Cup is the spectacle of it all. The elite quality of the tournament is already being watered down with the changes to the format, with 48 teams instead of 32.
While allowing more teams in will create new markets for the competition, it isn’t like the World Cup would struggle for viewership without them, as it is the most-watched sporting event on the planet.
The changes to the structure of the cup – with two out of a group of three going through instead of the top two in a group of four – is already challenging the tradition and excitement of the World Cup. If you draw one of the powerhouse teams, like Spain, France, or Brazil, then it is likely your country will be on a plane ride home after playing just two games.
Despite the success of the World Cup, FIFA seems to want to tinker with the competition without any concern for the negative impacts the changes may cause. To build support for this, FIFA is wheeling out stars like Arsene Wenger and Yaya Toure.
Why FIFA wants to interrupt what has proved to be a winning formula only has one answer: Greed. More games mean more money. In a 48 team competition, there will be 64 games, compared to 40 in the current format. More games equal more money for TV rights and a wider reach for the game with an added 16 teams.
Combine this with the concept of hosting a World Cup every two years instead of four, and FIFA will be printing money like never before.
The unfortunate side effect of this will a weaker competition in terms of quality. There are always some relatively poor teams featured in a World Cup, but adding another 16 of the ‘best of the rest’ will dilute the talent pool. Combine this with the fact some teams may even go home playing only two games, it will surely make the World Cup a less exciting affair for many appearing in the group stage.
Another factor that needs to be considered is sustainability. We’ve already seen that major sporting tournaments often leave countries with huge stadiums without any use for them.
Engineers Against Poverty say that hosting a World Cup leaves a “legacy of white elephants”, with stadiums built for the 2010 South Africa World Cup and 2014 World Cup in Brazil “hemorrhaging taxpayer’s money”.
A white elephant refers to a possession whose cost of maintenance is well beyond its value, and whose owner cannot dispose of it. An apt reference to what World Cup stadiums have become for countries that do not need bumper stadiums.
Four cities in Brazil that hosted games at the 2014 World Cup –Manaus, Cuiabá, Natal, and Brasília – have no major football teams to play in the humongous stadiums built for the event.
South Africa spent $2.7 billion to build 12 new stadiums for the World Cup, in a country where half the population lives off an average of $242AUD a month.
Polokwane, a city of 130,000, now pays $2.7 million a year in maintenance towards the legacy of the South African World Cup.
Russia is also struggling with issues related to stadiums built for the 2018 World Cup. In Saransk, local authorities are dealing with the upkeep of 300 million rubles (AUD 5.5 million) to maintain the stadium built for the event.
Major events don’t just lead to empty stadiums either. For the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian Government built a $13.5 billion tunnel system to connect Sochi to the rest of the country. The operation and maintenance of this underutilised infrastructure cost taxpayers $1.6 billion a year.
FIFA has praised the joint World Cup bid from the United States, Mexico and Canada for using existing infrastructure instead of building new stadiums, however, few countries already have the facilities to host games.
By expanding the World Cup to every two years, many countries will be hosting for the first time. This will inevitably lead to similar cases to South Africa, Brazil, and Russia’s stadiums becoming a burden on citizens.
FIFA risk damaging their premier competition in the pursuit of greed. It needs to be asked why they seem hell-bent on changing a winning formula, especially one that has already been embraced worldwide.