AN AMBITIOUS new game plan could make Ballarat one of the most female-friendly sporting cities in Australia within two years.
If successful, the plan could also allow City of Ballarat to bring forward planned works on high-priority sporting infrastructure projects particularly in soccer, lawn bowls and youth recreation, like skate parks.
In a report to go before council next week, City officers are recommending an application for a $10 million community sports infrastructure low-interest loan via the state government. Repayments, to be made over 10 years, will be part of the City’s existing sports and recreation budget.
This will allow for expedited, critical female-friendly facilities to be built across sporting codes within two years while also keeping up with other council sporting priorities.
City of Ballarat community development director Neville Ivey said the boom in female sports participation was causing increasing demand on existing facilities. Many were not compliant to female sporting needs, like appropriate change rooms.
The loan is available through a new state government sport and recreation program to promote grassroots investment in facilities.
Should the City secure a $10 million loan, it will fast-track about 30 sports projects across the city, affecting more than 3,680 participants. It will likely benefit 20 clubs in 13 sports across 16 separate venues.
The extent of reach will be conditional by the amount the City is able – if able – to secure in a loan.
Mr Ivey said the City was playing a catch-up game of sorts, to keep up with a boom in female sports that was driven by, but not limited to, football.
This loan would help the City get to the point it aims to be with the ability to carry out $16 million of community sports infrastructure within two years compared to five years without the boost.
Lake Wendouree became the first clubs to have purpose-built dedicated female change rooms for netballers and female footballers as part of a $2.5 million upgrade to CE Brown Reserve, officially opened in April last year.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $100,000 grant in June for much-lobbied female change rooms at Western Oval where Redan’s female football program and junior netball is based.
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Both grounds are also home to cricket, with CE Brown also home to athletics.
Mr Ivey said the City aspired to improve facilities across a wide range of female sports, including non-organised recreation, and to link the bid in with the City’s Active Women and Girls’ Strategy it launched in June.
He said the clear strategy, coupled with the ability to repay in budget, should help set the City in good standing for loan consideration.
The loans scheme offers a $100 million pool to borrow for grassroots sporting infrastructure up to a maximum amount of $10 million.
Mr Ivey said the move would not prevent the council from continuing to work with clubs on applying for separate sporting grants with the state government.
Soccer pitch upgrades and replacing ageing bowling greens remain top sporting priorities for the City.
Council must first vote to approve the loan application, which is due on August 31.
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