Time to think big about Football and Futsal facilities in the ACT

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Nearpost Local

Its the Vision Thing You know! Its Time To Think Big About Community Football and Futsal Facilities in the ACT

It seems that the NPL has stirred a hornet’s nest in some quarters at Capital Football.

Front and centre is the issue of owning our own Football and Futsal facilities in the ACT.

Lets start by reminding ourselves that it was a long term drought that saw many ACT Government community grass playing fields decommissioned, no water, no maintenance and left to decay to the point where they now require large investments to get them to playing standard. These open spaces have become very juicy targets for developers of medium density housing (“urban infill”??)

It seems that there is a view among some in Capital Football that Capital Football is not in the business of owning and maintaining football and Futsal facilities. It’s such a completely underwhelming position. No hope and no vision for the future.

Capital Football, on behalf of the ACT Football community, provided a very significant proportion (50% +) for the redevelopment of Hawker enclosed with a new FFA standard Tiger Turf surface. And what a terrific playing surface facility it is. So don’t tell me we are not in the business of investing in something we can call our own and how much better would it be if we did “own” Hawker Enclosed?

But the next “Hawker” is said to be about five years down the track! Too slow. We need another six of these facilities in the next three years!

My response to that suggestion that Capital Football does not own / maintain facilities for Football is simply this – is what we are doing now working to the complete satisfaction for the Football and Futsal community in the ACT? A community that is growing faster than we can service demand with suitable playing surfaces, even for our Premier League teams. Is it happening with the speed and frequency necessary to sustain and build the game? Are we “future proofing” our game?

When we ask questions, the answer is always the same – we are talking to so and so in the ACT Government, their are plans for new playing fields in new suburbs, we had a meeting with so and so. All that is ever seems to be spoken of is “process”, the sort of stuff you just expect to be happening, but not firm, detailed outcomes.

Take the Hawker Enclosed example – after a fine first effort to redevelop the ground, where is the expansion capability at Hawker for the next ground or the Futsal Facility? There is real estate in that area, but no plans. So in the end, we have one isolated playing field. If you ever go to see the HPP squads and others training during the week, you’ll quickly acknowledge the limitations of a “one field site” solution.

So we look elsewhere for ideas and inspiration. Do we do that? Valentine Park in metro NSW for Football NSW comes immediately to mind. What about that fantastic community Football development in the London, home of Barnett FC, called “the Hive”, a very recent development. There’s a message here for Capital Football, but are they “on receive”? Is this sort of “vision” a bit too demanding? Here’s a promo video for “The Hive”:

We need some visionary, bold thinking for Football going forward in the ACT, particularly in the area of playing facilities.

The FFA launched a National Curriculum and a National Development Plan that is intended to influence every level of the game, particularly in the junior and youth age groups, boys and girls. How can these wonderfully praiseworthy initiatives by the FFA be supported in the ACT Region without bold strokes across the playing facilities requirements in our region?

What we are doing, is what we have always done. Its not good enough, never was! And that seems to be the where the thinking stops! Dare I raise the matter of the $26m of ACt Gov funds that escaped to AFL (in Sydney)!

Why don’t we have a Football and Futsal Centre in the ACT where we could focus the game in our community, provide a number of first rate playing surfaces, a family friendly cafe, Football / Futsal shop, medical services, swimming pools, live in accommodation for visiting teams, just to name a few elements that come to mind. A place to cater to all levels of football development from ACTAS to Capital Football and Club development training, competitions across all age groups and levels from Junior to State League to Premier League, a place to focus the Kanga Cup and the FFA Futsal Nationals.

And why not two of them? Is this something that the ACT Government would be likely to be interested in? You bet! Why? Because its a plan that stands to continue to benefit all the Football community for many, many years to come. And ours is a very large sporting constituency.

If we had the flexibility with regard to playing facilities, delivered available and up to standard faciltties, we could, if we wanted to, completely restructure when and how we play our competitions during the year, giving both games a whole of year presence, without the constraints currently limiting the conduct of games in the ACT. What a fantastic thing it would be.

Why wouldn’t Capital Football, together with the Clubs and in partnership with the ACT Government want to be a proud “owner” of this type of vision for Football and Futsal?

Every time we talk of doing something different with the scheduling of our game, we are told that the grounds are not available. And they are not, because we don’t own or have any priority control over them! And nothing changes. So tell me why / how our present and long standing approach is making things better for the game in the ACT? Its not good enough in 2011 going forward.

So Capital Football – tell us what the plan is in detail!

Click here to go to the original article on Nearpost Local and to read some of the comments it has attracted…

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