Victoria Park Football Club to benefit from multi-million dollar facility upgrades

Victoria Park Football Club have received significant funding for facility upgrades in recent months, at the club’s home ground in Military Drive.

The Ballarat based club has received resurfacing and lighting works through funding from the local Ballarat City Council, as well as a $500,000 grant for a new female-friendly pavilion through the Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund.

Whilst the $1.3 million ground and lighting upgrades are close to fully completed, construction on the pavilion is set to commence in the coming weeks.

Victoria Park Football Club president, Sean O’Meara, explained to Soccerscene the urgent need for the new and improved pavilion.

“It’s very important for us to receive these upgrades, O’Meara said.

“We’ve been in the same building since the 80’s basically, so this upgrade will provide us with a social area, kitchen, canteen and other areas for us to use so we can build on our community.

“There will be two sets of changerooms in the new facility, which will provide a more welcoming environment for female participants and hopefully help us regain some of the female participants that we have lost.

“We can also now hold events there, where previously we would have had to hire out an outside venue which cost us more money as a club.”

The club and the wider community are currently reaping the rewards of the new field and lighting upgrades which have been implemented at Military Drive.

“At the moment, the wider community are seeing the benefits of the upgraded field,” O’Meara said.

“They use it for general activity, exercise and young families use it a lot.

“For us as a club, the new surfaces will play a major part in drawing in new players which will help the club in the future.”

The club at once stage had over 200 players registered at the club, across three senior and nine junior teams.

Speaking at the time of the announcement of the World Game Facilities funding grant, City of Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney, welcomed the investment.

“We’re really grateful for the state’s support of this important project. Soccer is one of our strongest participation sports and Victoria Park is at the gateway to our fast-growing western suburbs, so this upgrade will have a significant impact for hundreds of players at senior and junior levels,” Councillor Moloney said.

“This supports the $1.3 million resurfacing and lighting works completed and underway at the facility, which together will enhance the status of Victoria Park as one of city’s most important community spaces.”

Member for Wendouree, Juliana Addison MP, added at the announcement: “As we know from similar projects across Ballarat, upgraded facilities make it much easier for our community clubs to attract and retain players, and female friendly facilities help to level the playing field when comes to participation in sport. I’m confident this project, with the support of $500,000 from the Victorian Government, will help make that happen here too.”

Since 2018, the World Game Facilities Fund has invested $13.2 million in 48 football infrastructure projects across Victoria, with an overall value of more than $41 million.

“Better sport and recreation facilities make it easier for Victorians to get active and lead healthy lifestyles,” said Minister for Community Sport, Ros Spence.

“We’re providing clubs with support for really important projects that will make the world of difference for local communities.”

Football Victoria CEO, Kimon Taliadoros, said of the fund: “Football breaks down barriers and brings communities together – we’re delighted to see even more clubs being able to meet community demand through the latest round of the World Game Facilities Fund.”

The next round of applications for the World Game Facilities Fund are now open, for more information visit the link here.

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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.

Federal Budget commits $97 million investment for sport programs

The 2024-25 Federal Budget, which was released on Tuesday night, includes more than $97 million over two years to the ASC to extend Sporting Schools, the Local Sporting Champions, and Local Para Champions programs, and participation funding to help more Australians get active.

This two-year extension runs until 30 June 2026 and helps kids of all different sports afford an opportunity to play at a local level if they come from and under privileged background.

Football Australia is a part of the Sporting Schools program, with each state offering participation Officers and local clubs that are ready to implement in-school and after-school programs for students of ages up to Year 8, plus all abilities programs.

Football Australia use this program to link local football clubs with schools to facilitate an ongoing relationship and provide further opportunity for students to continue their football journey outside of school, whether that be MiniRoos Kick Off, MiniRoos Club or Junior Football.

More than 24,000 young Australians will be supported with the Local Sporting Champions (LSC) and Local Para Champions (LSP) grants programs continuing for a further two years.

These are fantastic programs that have supported Australia’s best athletes including many Matildas like Courtney Nevin, Cortnee Vine, Alex Chidiac, Teagan Micah and Clare Hunt.

World Cup veteran’s Caitlin Foord and Ellie Carpenter also rose to success with assistance from the LSC program throughout their junior careers.

Australian Sports Commission CEO Kieren Perkins OAM mentions the importance of this investment to continue critical national sporting programs.

“Once again, I want to thank Minister Wells and the Australian Government for their continued support and investment in Australian sport,” Perkins said in a statement.

“This funding extends critical sport participation programs like the Participation Grant program and Sporting Schools which provides free and fun sporting opportunities to more than two million students each year.

“This follows last week’s announcement of $249.7 million to upgrade the AIS Campus to ensure our athletes have access to the world’s best testing and training facilities, and accommodation ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

This is a fantastic initiative that will benefit football amongst other sports and has a history of helping kids of all skill levels play in their respective sport.

The Federal Budget have put in almost $350 to improve sport, mostly around the 2032 Olympic Games but it is great to see some investment in the world game after the huge success of the Women’s World Cup last year.

Federal government commit $250 million to upgrade AIS facilities

The federal government confirm they are committing $250 million to upgrade the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The funding will be put towards building a new high-performance training and testing centre, a multi-sport indoor dome, and an accommodation facility.

An independent review of the institute’s infrastructure found that in February, the AIS should stay in Canberra but needs a significant upgrade ahead of the games.

As a football outlook, the facilities don’t seem to help the development of young or professional footballers at all.

After the ‘FFA Centre of Excellence’ was discontinued in 2017, the AIS haven’t put a lot of focus into football and have left development purely up to Football Australia and the state federations.

The AIS upgrades in Canberra are seemingly leaving out football and the $250m is being spent on a purely Olympic outlook including athletics and swimming, in order to try and maximise the amount of gold medals Australia wins.

With the popularity of The Matildas rapidly growing with eight years before the Brisbane Olympics, the government should really be focusing on what they can do for football.

Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells discussed the government’s commitment to revitalise the AIS as a “world-standard facility.”

“When it was first built, the AIS was so successful in preparing our medal winning athletes that it was replicated by sporting nations around the world and became the benchmark for achieving athletic success,” she said in an statement.

“Today, our government is investing in the AIS, so we reach those benchmarks again as we commit to delivering world standard training facilities ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commented on the importance of these upgrades for the country.

“We want to give our athletes the best chance of bringing home gold at Brisbane and every competition before and after those games,” he added in an statement.

“The upcoming budget will ensure the AIS remains in the capital, where it belongs, and ensure it once again becomes the world-leading high-performance centre it was designed to be.”

The AIS upgrades are fantastic for the country’s top athletes and the much needed improvements set the country up well for 2032, but the question lies, what are they doing for football?

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