Students, police and some Yarra councillors are behind a push to get better sports facilities at the Fitzroy housing estate.
Yarra Police youth resource officer Chris McGeachan runs weekly programs at Atherton Gardens for about 120 young people in a number of sports, chiefly soccer and futsal.
Sen-Constable McGeachan said sport and recreation were ideal ways to engage young people from high-rises.
But he said activities were becoming less accessible, with the main soccer pitch at the gardens in such poor condition he was forced to run five-a-side futsal competitions on the nearby basketball courts.
“At the moment we’re on a postage stamp with about 50 kids,” Sen-Constable McGeachan said.
He estimated up to $60,000 was needed to build a proper outdoor futsal court and resurface the pitch permanently with artificial turf.
Year 10 students from Northcote High School’s socially proactive High Resolve program, some of them members of other local soccer clubs, are aware of differences between their own facilities in Northcote and the Fitzroy estate grounds.
“I used to play on that field (at primary school), but it’s just gone downhill,” Year 10 student Allan said.
“Compared to our facilities (at Yarra Jets Football Club) it’s unplayable.
Allan said the 20 High Resolve students would petition the community to raise awareness of the issue.
Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly said he would put in a submission for the council to consider resurfacing the pitch in this year’s budget.
“I’m very passionate about it,” Cr Jolly said.
“If we don’t do this, then don’t go scratching your head when people get up to no good.”
But Yarra mayor Geoff Barbour said the council spent about $103,000 on turf and irrigation works at Atherton Reserve in late 2009.
“I recognise it is a very heavily utilised sports pitch but I’m not sure having spent that money so recently we want to rip it out and start again,” Cr Barbour said.
He said he would seek information from council officers.