Waverley City Soccer Club have received a $125,000 funding boost in the form of new and improved competition grade lighting, through the Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund.
The installation of the state-of-the-art LED lighting at the club’s home ground at Milpera Reserve in Wantirna coincides with recent upgrades currently in progress at the facility, which includes the implementation of a new playing surface, irrigation system, fencing and goals.
Club president Kevin Tan explained to Soccerscene that the range of upgrades are extremely beneficial for the club.
“For us specifically, it’s fantastic that we now have the ability to train and play night games sporadically in the same location,” he said.
“Before this, we had to move our training sessions to a different ground and play games here.
“Being able to train at the ground you play may seem like a small thing but for us it saves us so much money. There are also other benefits such as having the juniors and seniors training together, so the juniors and seniors now see each other and interact – which is great for building a culture in the club.”
The club was formed in 2007 on the back of a group of mates who were looking to play games of football together on the weekends.
Since then, the club has expanded significantly with 172 members, fielding four senior men’s teams, two senior women’s teams and six junior teams.
The local community have played a huge role in the progress of the club and according to Tan, the new upgrades are for all to enjoy.
“In regards to our affiliation with the area, we want be more visible in the community; we can hold events and things like that to get to know our neighbours a bit more,” he said.
“The wider community can obviously use it, importantly it’s for them as well.
“Some of the early feedback we’ve received from members around the community is that they love the ability to walk around Milpera at night now.
“Previously there was no lights at all, so if they want to go for a walk at night in the area while we train, they can, and have, which is really good.”
Lisa Cooper, Mayor and Councillor of Knox City Council, spoke about the funding for the lighting upgrades: “There are so many new teams, and every team needs a suitable space to train and play. The Victorian Government’s World Game Facilities Fund is helping us keep up with growth in the sport locally.
“Training and match standard lighting enables more teams to train and play in the evening but it can be expensive, and the grants are helping us complete the upgrades more quickly than Council could find the budget for on our own.
“The LED lighting is energy-efficient and focuses the light on the pitch so it doesn’t spill into surrounding backyards,” Cooper concluded.
The funding boost has also been complemented by goodwill agreements with the local council, who have cancelled ground hire costs for Waverley City Soccer Club this season.
“Our council has been good with us; they’ve waived fees this season for ground fees,” Tan said.
“We’ve obviously had some financial struggles in the last year with Covid like a lot of clubs, so being able to save money while you can, is amazing for us.
“It is something that has allowed us to stabilise the club.”
In the near future, further upgrades are set for Milpera Reserve, including the introduction of portable change-rooms which will give the club the scope to eventually expand the number of boys’ and girls’ teams.
“It’s part of a 3-year plan which had been previously confirmed, but COVID has messed up the timeline a bit,” Tan said.
“Previously we had a really good chat with our former councillor Jackson Taylor and he was really big on improving our area’s sporting clubs (he eventually became a member of parliament for Bayswater) and really helped a lot with getting our grants sorted for us.
“The lights were meant to be done in the last year, but nothing really got done in 2020 because of the pandemic. I’m now not actually sure of what the rest of the timeline is, but I do believe they (portable change-rooms) are guaranteed for some time in the future, which is definitely exciting for us.”