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Mount Eliza Soccer Club receive new pitch and lighting upgrades from Victorian Government

Mount Eliza Soccer Club have been the beneficiaries of a recent funding grant from the Victorian Government, with a new pitch and improved lighting to be introduced at the club’s home of Emil Madsen Reserve.

Mount Eliza was one of the eleven projects selected for the World Game Facilities Fund program in 2021, splitting an overall total of $3.8 million in funding.

President of the Mount Eliza Soccer Club, Justin Sheppard, explained to Soccerscene that the upgrades are part of a holistic plan to improve the club’s ground and amenities areas.

“We run our club out of two sites, a local secondary college which is our summer base and the reserve in Mt Eliza which is our home base with two full pitches,” he said.

“We’ve got around 500 members, so running out of the current two pitches at Emil Madsen Reserve was very difficult.

“We’ve been pushing very hard for a third pitch and a pavilion for the past 5 years. We were lucky enough to receive the recent World Game funding for that third pitch, which gives us a fully lit pitch which is fenced around and gives us one more area to play on. It’s a wonderful development.”

Sheppard stated that the main works on site are set to start by October, but the pitch has already been flattened and is “shovel ready”.

He expanded on the benefits that the upgrades will provide for the club in the short and long term.

“Firstly, it allows more kids access to training,” he stated.

“It gives us a huge amount of ability to now train more teams, run more specialised training programs and give teams the opportunity to train two times a week (only been offered one day a week in the past).

“Weekend matchdays will also just be phenomenal. All of a sudden, we will have a purpose-built soccer pitch which makes it really nice for us and gives us the chance to play more home games at our venue, as opposed to using the secondary college.

“We’re hoping it’s a 12-month facility for us. It gives us a great ability to get our members active.”

The local community will also have a chance to experience the new upgrades and use them for their own purposes.

“It’s positively affecting the wider community as well,” Sheppard said.

“When we run our training program now 70% come from our membership base but the remaining 30% come from other local clubs. This new pitch will give us the scope to go wider with that. It’s not about revenue making for the club, it’s just about getting people to play more.

“If you’re going down to the park with a kick with mates that’s one thing, but playing on a proper surface with goals set up all year round, it’s a different story. On the weekends, with no football on, there’s kids playing in the community everywhere across those pitches. We hope things like this will grow further with the upgrades.”

The club itself has grown in certain areas in the past couple years, including the development of further female teams.

“We’ve had a huge growth in the girls’ numbers, we’ve gone from four teams to eight teams this year,” Sheppard said.

“We plan on reaching ten teams next year. It’s been a massive increase; with girls we want the facilities to continue to improve and be great for them.”

The club, while grateful for the recently announced upgrades, hopes to announce the formation of a clubhouse in the coming months, which will become the club’s home at Emil Madsen Reserve.

“The pavilion is actually sitting with the local council at the moment,” Sheppard said.

“It’s been costed, is in the advanced drawings phase and almost shovel ready.

“We are now waiting for council funding on its approval, that’s sitting with our local member.

“They’re working very hard to get that through for all the sporting clubs on Emil Madsen Reserve. We haven’t got a clubroom, so this will be our first clubroom their and our home base, which is very exciting for the future.”

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.

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.”

Oakleigh Cannons confirm $4m grant for Jack Edwards Reserve upgrade

Jack Edwards Reserve, home of NPL Victoria outfit Oakleigh Canons and Chisholm United, is set for a $4 million upgrade.

Jack Edwards Reserve, home of NPL Victoria outfit Oakleigh Canons and Chisholm United, is set for a $4 million upgrade, revealed on a recent Cannons Facebook post.

The funding announcement states that the Cannons have received a $4 million grant for a new pavilion and facility upgrade.

“This project is not just a football project; it is a community project; Oakleigh Cannons and Jack Edwards Reserve are a social hub, a meeting point for parents, grandparents, siblings,” Oakleigh Cannons president Stan Papayienneris said.

“Now the state government in their foresight and entrustment in us have decided that the facilities should be improved. Further, they will add to the existing facilities, and hopefully, upon completion, it will be something that is considered world-class.

“This facility is going to be a step closer to our goal of having women’s teams in the NPL; it is going to provide the infrastructure that’s required.”

Oakleigh MP Steve Dimopoulos hailed Jack Edwards Reserve as an “anchor” of the local community and was delighted to confirm the grant.

“It is one of the anchors of the Oakleigh community; when you talk about a community anchor, there is probably no bigger than the Cannons and Jack Edwards Reserve,” he said.

“The Victorian government this year has fully committed and confirmed a $4 million grant to help achieve this vision.”

Club Chairman Kon Kavalakis was delighted to see the grant confirmed.

“It has been an unbelievable journey with a lot of hurdles, and we have overcome every single one of them,” he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank local MP Steve Dimopoulos and the Monash City council for their continued support throughout this process.”

The statement on the Cannons’ Facebook page also stated that the club was continuing to work with Monash City Council on further upgrades.

“In conjunction with the Monash City council, we look forward to working together to complete the new pavilion and facility upgrade which is estimated to cost between $10-12 million,” the statement read.

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