Hey Sydney – we’ve got great foundations colosseums need, right here in Ballarat | From the Press Box with Melanie Whelan

PATHWAY: Elite talent like Melbourne export Ben Simmons, in NBA action for Philadelphia 76ers last week, need to start their game somewhere. Quality grassroots arenas are vital. Picture: AP

PATHWAY: Elite talent like Melbourne export Ben Simmons, in NBA action for Philadelphia 76ers last week, need to start their game somewhere. Quality grassroots arenas are vital. Picture: AP

THERE is nothing quite like a roaring crowd inside a colosseum with modern fanfare that makes for a spectacular sporting show.

Added extras and improved accessibility helps every fan feel right in the thick of the action, part of every bump and heavy blow.

Elite sport is a big entertainment business.

This is why sound grassroots arenas are more vital than ever – and Victoria is making the right play in Ballarat.

There is a complete stadium storm in Sydney right now with the New South Wales government looking to raze two seemingly all right outdoor arenas in a touted $2 billion move for new super models.

A petition sparked by Australian history guru and former rugby international Peter FitzSimons is demanding for a NSW government re-think.

The campaign suggests even half this amount could help sports outside the state capital to “bloom” – even if just in lowering junior registration fees to get more children in a game.

It is a tough sporting landscape with increasingly fierce competition for participation, particularly with the surge in women’s games. Sporting bodies need to be smarter about how to find good, modern facilities to match.

The prime example of how this can work is in Ballarat.

Basketball Victoria and Netball Victoria joined forces this week to unveil their clear strategic plans to meet increasing participation demands across the state, including details for the Central Highlands region, for the next decade.

Combining their voices should prove a far more powerful agent to lobby governments for the funding where it was needed most for indoor sports.

This move has already been in play to achieve the full vision for the Ballarat Sports and Events Centre redevelopment.

The city’s indoor sports, led by basketball and netball, worked together on the case with the City of Ballarat to alleviate pressure on court space.

PACKED: Basketball's indoor sports successfully lobbied a case together for new community facilities to meet participation demand and strengthen pathways.

PACKED: Basketball's indoor sports successfully lobbied a case together for new community facilities to meet participation demand and strengthen pathways.

While there are great dedicated facilities across Ballarat, like netball at Llanberris and smart footy-netball courts, Central Highlands still has one of the lowest netball court allocations in the state.

Teaming up with basketball and other indoor sports offers more flexibility to expand competitions, particularly when it comes to junior ranks.

At its core, this is a combined effort to ensure everyone who wants a game, or who are interested in a game, can get a game in an appropriate venue.

Quality community arenas help promote early skill development. They play a key role in ensuring the future Ben Simmons’ of our sport get a sound start and a smoother pathway.  

In football terms, the resurfacing of Ballarat grounds is already making a huge difference on the skills of juniors, no longer bogged down.

We can proudly boast Melbourne is Australia’s sporting capital but underpinning this, we need strong infrastructure support to develop our games.

This is where NSW seems to really be missing the mark, dazzled by colosseum hype.

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