BALLARAT’S new soccer facility will have a profoundly positive impact on soccer in Ballarat, according to the city’s soccer leaders.
With a lift in overall standard across the board, better opportunities for juniors to advance to the elite level and the chance for Ballarat to be put on the national soccer map, the benefits of the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility will be felt for years to come.
Although it is not going to be officially opened until at least next month, the first match at Ballarat’s newest stadium will be played on Saturday when Ballarat Red Devils host league heavyweights South Melbourne.
With a bumper crowd expected to flock to Morshead Park to witness the occasion, the Ballarat soccer fraternity also has one eye fixed to the future.
Ballarat District Soccer Association’s Herman Bogers said the flow-on effect of having the elite stadium would be felt for years to come.
“The standard of the competition has lifted so much in recent years and having something like this is only going to lift it higher,” Bogers said.
“Other regional centres like Geelong and Shepparton have produced a number of players who have gone on to the elite level and now there is no reason Ballarat cannot add its name to that list.”
Bogers said it was also hoped the BDSA could benefit from the complex in addition to the Ballarat Red Devils, with previous grand finals already held on the synthetic pitch.
Ballarat Red Devils chairman Duncan Smith said Saturday’s opening was the start of a new dawn for soccer in Ballarat.
“It is the culmination of years of hard work,” he said.
“There’s been a lot of heartache, as there always is with projects this big, but it has all come together.”
The Ballarat 20s side will have the honour of playing the first match on the new pitch, before the seniors take to the field at 3pm.
“We couldn’t keep moving along without a new stadium,” Smith said.
“Without the new stadium, we wouldn’t be hosting an NPLV home game like we are today.”