For Tasmanian National Premier Leagues powerhouse South Hobart FC, a dream scenario of a $1 million Federal Government grant has come true with the announcement last month to upgrade the club's facilities at its D'Arcy Street home ground.

The grant, announced by the independent member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie MP, will help the club to build a new pavilion with facilities for men and women, as well as access for those with disabilities.

Pending planning approvals, the club also hopes to build dugouts and provide new lighting to open up the possibility of hosting night games and improving the matchday experience for players, supporters and officials alike.

Club president Victoria Morton said the key to success in achieving the grant was a mix of working on the club's relationship with its local Federal MP who happens to be Ian ndependent more than willing to push the local agenda in Canberra.

“In Tasmania, we have quite good access to our politicians,” Victoria said.

“They could be at the gym or filling up their cars and you'll see them and be able to go and talk to them directly and for quite a long time Andrew has been a friend of soccer for a long time.

“Andrew is also an Independent which has been interesting in terms of how the whole political situation works and federally for Denison it has worked really well because Andrew has been able to secure some great funding for the local community.

“He also recently announced another $1 million for Glenorchy Knights, which will assist football in the state greatly because their home ground is also the home of Football Federation Tasmania as well.”

Morton said that her role as deputy chairperson of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) and the current push for a national second division opened her eyes to the need for vast improvements in the infrastructure of Australian football and was a big catalyst for her to approach MP Wilkie to see if there would be any federal government backing for the club's plans to develop its home ground.

“That experience opened my eyes and probably just confirmed to me that Tasmanian soccer grounds need a lot of work,” she said.

“If a second division happens, there's going to be benchmarks, but regardless of whether we or another Tasmanian club wanted to be a part of that or not, the grounds in Tasmania are poor down here.”

With football in Tasmania usually playing second fiddle to other codes when it comes to government support and funding, despite the overwhelming popularity of football in terms of participation, Morton said it was important for clubs to take matters into their own hands wherever possible and reach out to local politicians.

“Having conversations as much as possible is really important from a facilities point of view.

“We're not seen as the major code in the state and with the nature of the model our code being very much bottom-up in terms of funding, we don't get money coming down as AFL or cricket does. It can be hard to bring that to the attention of our local politicians and councils, so it's important that we take every opportunity we can to speak about the needs of our game and the number of players we have to service.”

The D'Arcy Street ground South Hobart calls home is council owned so it was important that Morton was able to demonstrate the benefit of these planned upgrades – which remain subject to council approval - to the community.

“D'Arcy Street is the Hobart City Council's premium soccer ground, but the facilities within the ground are very poor.

“There's no disabled access or toilets to the main pavilion, there's a very antiquated scoreboard where we all have to take turns running around the ground to update the score and there are no change rooms for the girls which means they have to wait for the boys to clear out.

“These are all things the grant will help us to fix … and they will provide a great benefit to all the players and supporters who come here, whether they're playing for or supporting South Hobart or the opposition, so every facility that is upgraded will help every single footballer who plays there.”

On Saturday 2 February, South Hobart FC is hosting a regular pre-season game against Pascoe Vale FC, the club of Hakeem Al-Araibi, at South Hobart Oval. Entry is free, and all those present are urged to arrive by 11.45am for a group photo with #SaveHakeem, and to clap at the 5-minute mark of the game, in honour of his shirt number. Kick-off is 12 noon. 


Categories: News | People | Local

south hobart fc, andrew wilkie mp, victoria morton, #savehakeem, pascoe vale fc

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