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Western United to benefit from state government funding

Western United will receive funding from the Victorian government due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

United joins professional sporting teams from other codes including Rugby League and Netball, who will share a $9 million support package from the state government.

The funding has been allocated to ensure the short-term viability of professional clubs and national sporting organisations based in Victoria.

Commenting on the funding, Minister for Sport Martin Pakula said: “Top-level sport has copped a buffeting like all parts of society and it’s important that our clubs and peak bodies are able to get through this time in relatively good shape.”

“Professional sport and elite competition provide entertainment and inspiration and fans getting the all-clear to return to the stands will be a significant part of our economic recovery.”

A $150 million ‘Experience Economy Survival Package’ was announced earlier in the year in May, with the government seeking to help sport and racing organisations, community sport, as well as tourism and creative industries.

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.

Croydon FC to move into new $7 million facility in 2022

Croydon FC will move into a newly constructed facility setup at Regency Park Oval early next year, in what is a significant boost for the NPL club.

Amongst other things, two full-size synthetic pitches are set to be implemented at the club’s new home, with one of those already completed – alongside new clubrooms, a community function room and a junior grass pitch.

$4 million in funding for the project is being provided by the State Government, with the local Port Adelaide Enfield Council chipping in $3 million.

The relocation project was partly due to conflicting government infrastructure projects, but also down to the growth the club has been experiencing at a participation level.

“Croydon FC did recognise it outgrew its old facilities and developed a strategy for a new club which ensured that it catered for all members and players, provided up to date modern facilities and place where we could bring community and football together,” Chair of Croydon FC, Simon Garagaro said.

The club’s junior and senior setup will now be located at the same facility, something that was not possible in past times. It’s one of the many benefits the club is set to receive from the move.

“The benefits for, club, community, and football we believe will be significant,” Vice Chair of Croydon FC, Maria Hagias said.

“This opportunity will ensure that the whole club and teams are located within one facility, it provides a sense of connectedness that we have not experienced over the years due to having to run the club from several facilities.

“Our Senior men, women and juniors will be together sharing the joys and knowledge of football, building a sense of community and aspiration that will ensure that our club will continue its success for many years to come.

“Our region is culturally diverse, and we are proud to have a club that began due to the vision of migrants creating a sense of belonging and continuing that legacy until this day and into the future.”

At a junior level, participation numbers continue to rise rapidly at the club – particularly on the female side.

This trend is showing no signs of slowing down, especially with the new facilities at Regency Park Oval.

“We do expect an influx, the community has already embraced and are excited about the new facilities,” Hagias said.

“Trials for the season coming have already witnessed a significant increase from last year, resulting in extra teams for juniors and an increase in young girls wanting to participate in 2022.

“Our senior women’s team has enjoyed success over the last two years and promoting their success has resulted in an increase of women and girls wanting to join Croydon, alongside our new facilities.

“The Women’s World Cup is certainly creating excitement and engaging young girls and women, it is critical to capitalise on the potential that a World Cup brings to the sport and it is our responsibility to create an environment that equally invests and commits to female participation.

The club itself was founded in 1950 by Polish migrants, initially called Polonia Sports Club, before transitioning to a football club down the track.

The hard work of the community as whole has been essential to the foundations of the club.

“The club was established to use sport as a vehicle to connect as a community – to bring together whole of community, celebrating diversity and inclusion and addressing isolation,” Hagias explained.

“We are committed to the original vision and continue that today; this is evident across our club from our leadership body which ensures and is committed to diversity and to our volunteers and playing groups.

“Our club is successful due to the hard work and passion of volunteers and community.

“Our successes on and off the field are due to our volunteers, parents and players embracing our vision and values.

“We are proud of our club and its history, as a result we have produced amazing sports people who have gone on to represent Croydon proudly.

Lalor United FC to receive multi-million dollar makeover at HR Uren Reserve

Lalor United FC are set to benefit from a multi-million dollar facility upgrade at HR Uren Reserve, the club’s home ground in Thomastown.

Under the upgrade plans, the club will receive a new synthetic pitch, a new pavilion – which will include a multi-purpose social space and a notable carpark extension.

Lalor have been pushing for these upgrades for a number of years – according to vice president of the club Emil Atanasov, with the local Whittlesea City Council providing significant support which included funding for the project.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Atanasov explained the timeline for the implementation of the upgrades.

“Stage One of the project is to put in a brand-new artificial FIFA approved pitch,” he said.

“The pitch that is currently there now hasn’t been touched since 1979. Construction on that will start any day now – when more of the construction workers get back to work and will be ready by March of next year.

“As soon as that’s done in March, the works for the pavilion should begin.

“The brand-new pavilion will have a social space for the club and local communities. The tender process for that should be going out shortly, but it should be assigned and ready to go in March.

“Finally with the carpark, works could possibly begin the same time as the pavilion, or they are going to wait for the pavilion to get completed to get going on it.”

Atanasov believes the much-needed changes to the facility will bring in a range of benefits for the club, but also to the local community.

“It’s huge for the club, as now you will be able to play all weather football,” he said.

“That pitch used to flood all the time, if there was a bit of rain you couldn’t train on it. Now, there will be no problem for any type of weather.

“We are also expecting a bit of an influx of players to the club because the facilities upgrade is huge for the area.

“With the pavilion, lots of community groups have already said they want to use it, for example dancing groups and pensioner groups.

“We have never had a social space at the club, it’s always been the changerooms converted into a makeshift dining room. So now, finally the club is getting a social space where members can sit down and enjoy themselves with great company.

“That carpark at the moment has around 50 spaces or so and at night it is prone to accidents. With the upgrades they will develop a one-way entrance and exit and there will be triple the amount of space.”

The club itself was established over 40 years ago and has a historic presence in the Thomastown area.

When initially created, Lalor United was inspired by a vision for a broad-based community team, celebrating cultural diversity and sporting passion through football, according to a statement on the club’s website.

Atanasov stated that the club’s core mission is to provide “a safe, fun, football environment for anyone who wants to play the game.”

This type of motto has led to Lalor becoming one of the largest clubs in the City of Whittlesea municipality, with more than 300 members signed up across a wide range of teams.

The club has ambitions for further upgrades in the future, which will look to hopefully grow their culturally diverse membership base even further.

“Look upgrades wise, we’d like our lights updated eventually so we can play night matches and attract a few more teams at the club,” Atanasov said.

“But for now, we are focusing on the current upgrades and once they are done, we will be all set and ready to go.”

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