Help arrives for 'below standard' North Coast facilities
FOOTBALL: After a self audit revealed the sorry state of North Coast Football facilities earlier this year, the first step to a new era has been taken to bring the region up to scratch.
Three local clubs have received a combined $150,813 from the first round of the Northern NSW Football Facilities Fund, with plans already in place to make the most of the money.
Sawtell FC, Coffs Coast Tigers and Northern Storm are the clubs who have landed the windfall.
They make up three of the six grants awarded across Northern NSW which will facilitate a total investment of $786,401 into community football venues when aggregated with other funding pledges.
The establishment of the Facilities Fund is aligned to Northern NSW Football's goal to improve the accessibility and overall quality of football fields from Newcastle to the boarder.
"We had many submissions which were of very high quality and whilst we couldn't fund all projects in this inaugural round, the projects which were successful addressed vital challenges of safety of players through lighting and improving facilities for members,” Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland said.
"With growing demand, clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to provide and maintain facilities which meet users' needs and expectations.”
The Tigers received $99,500 to help them install new lighting on their second field and update lighting on their main field. The project will cost $243,500 all up.
"It's been a long process and our current lights have cost us a lot of money,” Tigers president Mellesa Bennett said.
"We haven't had night games for three years because the current lights have deteriorated that badly.
"With the new lights on field two we'll also be able to have more room for training. At the moment we're training Monday-Friday since we just have the one field with lights.”
Bennett said the Tigers are hoping to have work started on the lights in three months time so they'll be ready to go for 2020. The president also acknowledged Northern NSW Football for stepping up to the plate and addressing the issues which have plagued clubs in the region.
"There's many clubs around here that don't meet the playing and training standards,” she said.
"For them to recognise that issue and send someone up to speak to a representative from each club about what they need and where they are behind is great. Now they know where the funding needs to go so we can keep growing the game.”
The Northern Storm were granted $23,000 to assist with a new canteen while Sawtell received just over $28,000 to help with the renovation of existing facilities to ensure they're more female friendly.