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Friday, May 14, 2021

Hitting it out of the park: ACT Government provides $1.25 million towards sports facilities

Dragon boaters will soon have a new home on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin; Gungahlin will get its first community tennis facility; and women rugby players will at last have their own changerooms – all thanks to a $1.25 million for sport facilities from the ACT Government over the next couple of years for planning and design.

“2020 has been a terribly difficult year for the ACT’s sports organisations,” Yvette Berry, Minister for Sport and Recreation, said.

“To have something come out at the end of it in 2021 is a real silver lining, and something to look forward to in the next couple of years.”

Dragon Boat ACT will receive $400,000 towards a permanent facility at Grevillea Park, including a boathouse, storage shed, and a spectator area.

“We as an organisation have been ‘couch surfing’ for 30 years; our current couch is about to be upended,” president John Corcoran said.

The club formerly had its base at the Southern Cross Yacht Club, but the expansion of the car park forced them to leave.

“The timing of this announcement makes us very happy. We look forward to offering facilities for people to come down in more comfort to enjoy the sport they love.”

More than 600 Canberrans are dragon boaters, forming seven teams and three school teams. Some are keen competitors, others enjoy it as a social activity, Mr Corcoran said.

Member Sue Pidgeon said it was a very inclusive sport; it appeals to women (two-thirds of the members) and to all ages (ranging from 11 to 80). “You don’t ever stop dragon boating; you don’t retire.”

The Government will spend half a million dollars on preliminary works and planning for Gungahlin’s first community tennis centre to be built in Amaroo.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr last year promised $8 million for the facility, expected to take three years to build. Tennis ACT CEO Kim Kachel said he was excited and pleased to have this first tranche of funding.

The centre will include up to 12 full-sized tennis courts, including LED floodlighting, up to two hotshots courts, a pavilion, a hitting wall, and parking, and could hold major tennis events. With almost 85,000 people living in Gungahlin, the tennis centre was destined to succeed, Mr Kachel said.

The Phillip District Enclosed Oval will receive $350,000 towards new community facilities, including a gym and storage area, a new pavilion with kitchen and bar, an upgraded grandstand, and lights and additional parking.

Mick Houston, business development manager of the Canberra Royals Rugby Football Club, said: “It’s massive for Canberra Royals and the community … The facilities are a bit tired.”

And one improvement is long overdue: there are no women’s changerooms. Rugby player Louise Burrows says having her own changeroom will make a huge difference. She has been playing since the 1990s, and is tired of changing on the side of the oval or in the same changerooms as the men.

“On a Saturday now I won’t need to worry about where I’m getting changed before the game,” Ms Burrows said.

Changing on the sidelines, in cars, or in men’s changerooms was not okay, Ms Berry agreed.

“Some sports facilities were built for men, by men, for men’s sport,” Ms Berry said.

“There was never any consideration that women would be playing. What we’re seeing now is real growth in women’s sport. Women are broadening their horizons and playing whatever sport they want to – so of course we need facilities that meets that new change.”

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