North Sunshine Eagles FC’s entire junior setup will be based out of More Park in 2022, a newly redeveloped $8.4 million facility in Ardeer.
The facility itself, amongst other things, has two full size rectangular pitches, a 21x12m fully enclosed futsal court, a mini pitch (suitable for miniroos), competition standard (200 lux) lighting, four female-friendly changerooms as well as a fully accessible sports pavilion, community social room and expanded carpark.
The club, which has continued to grow its number of registered players over multiple years, has been working with the local Brimbank City Council for a while to move on its juniors from previous homes of Bon Thomas Reserve and Lloyd Reserve.
“Over the years, we’ve been developing and expanding the club to a stage where we couldn’t continue with the levels of kids we were having at these facilities,” President of North Sunshine Eagles FC, Memet Selimi, told Soccerscene.
Selimi explained that the competition for use of the facility was hotly contested, but the club’s strong work in the area, particularly in engaging migrant communities was heavily favoured by the local council.
“We put forward a very solid application for the facility,” he said.
“Ultimately, there were several other big clubs that had applied for the position as well.
“The facility itself was traditionally a softball facility, but it never had a winter tenant – so it was pretty much always just used in the summer time and there was a big space to fill.
“Clearly, council established that there was capacity here, they wanted a winter tenant and they found us to be the most suitable candidate.
“It’s been a bit of a process, but we’re really excited about the idea of being there now for the start of next season.”
The club’s senior setup is set to remain at their home base of 30 years at Larissa Reserve in St Albans, however, Selimi revealed competitive senior matches may be played due to the improved lighting setup at More Park.
“We are looking at engaging in the possibility of playing night matches, once we run it past Football Victoria for approval,” he said.
“We will look at matches at night that will generate numbers and logistically be easy to deal with.
“Ultimately, Larissa will continue to be our home base for the seniors, but More Park will hopefully host a number of senior matches in the future.”
The club, which has a strong history going back over 50 years, are set to benefit in a multitude of ways from moving to the new facility, as is the local community – according to Selimi.
“It’s a great facility, it’s got everything we need,” he said.
“Its’s unique as well, for example, it’s got a really cool caged football setup – which is exactly something you would see in Europe or South America. It will develop a player’s skills at a much more intricate level.
“We want to grow football within the female community and engage as much as possible. We feel it’s an incredible opportunity for the club and we have grown those junior female numbers over the past few years at an exponential rate. With the new facilities we can continue to do that, with the grounds, the increased capacities and the changerooms which cater for females.
“Overall, from a footballing and club perspective, it’s going to allow us to expand our juniors, our women’s football and just create a better environment for everyone.
“From a community standpoint, it will also allow us to connect with the local migrant demographics we are trying to engage and really just try to provide an affordable option for people in the area. It’s unfair for a talent to miss out on possibilities because clubs are charging $2000 a season; we charge much less and work with individuals on things like payment plans, or trying to sponsor them, as well as other combinations as a club to make sure they don’t miss out on these chances.”
The club is extremely grateful for the improved setup at More Park for its juniors and hopes a few facility tweaks at Larissa Reserve will round out the good news.
“It will be incredible if we could seek out some funding for Larissa in regards to an upgraded carpark and lighting, but beyond that we can’t really complain,” Selimi said.
“What we’ve received up to this point is fantastic and it’s really up to us now to take it, run with it and grow our club even further – which would be great.”