The State Government will provide a $1.5 million loan to Williamstown Football Club which will enable the club to upgrade its home at Burbank Oval, after Hobsons Bay City Council recently rejected the club’s request for support in applying to the state for a grant.
Parliamentary Secretary for Treasury and Finance Daniel Mulino and Member for Williamstown Wade Noonan announced the funding, which will enable the club to build two additional unisex change rooms and upgrade lighting at the council-owned oval.
The project will provide state-of-the-art change rooms and match-day facilities that accommodate female participation, and support all user groups at Burbank Oval, including the Williamstown VFL and VFLW teams and the Western Jets male and female teams.
Upgraded lighting at the ground will allow more flexibility in fixturing VFL, VFLW and TAC tenant club matches, thereby expanding the opportunities for hosting more community football games at Williamstown.
State Member for Williamstown Wade Noonan said ‘serious investment’ was needed to bring the club up to speed with female friendly facilities which will be able to meet the needs for the rising number of women participating in sports within the community.
“It became very clear for me when the club made an outstanding decision, a really outstanding decision, to put for the first time a standalone VFL women’s side into the competition this year that the facilities probably need some serious investment,” he said.
“It’s a sort of good problem to have, but it’s a hard problem to have when you’ve got more girls, more juniors, more women wanting to play the game, but you simply don’t have the facilities.”
“Daniel’s work and his willingness to open the door and allow representatives from the Williamstown Football Club to come forward and make an argument about putting their club in the frame for this particular loan has resulted in the announcement today.”
“We’re delighted to give Williamstown a lending hand with the new game-changing facilities they need. This year alone the ground has been used by more than 3,000 participants from almost 40 different clubs, so it’s a big win for the entire community,” he said.
“The club has the best VFLW player in Jess Duffin and soon it will have the best facilities for the women’s team. As the number one ticket holder, I’m very proud of the club’s approach to create an inclusive culture.”
Following the announcement at a media conference last week, Hobsons Bay Mayor Angela Altair congratulated Hobsons Bay City Council on developing a document which was said to have helped secure funding from the state, and also offered assistance with permits.
“The council is thrilled to see this funding come in and we will support the club in any way we can to make sure all the necessary permits will be passed through so there is no hold ups in those developments,” she said.
“It’s very typical of this club that they do have grand visions and they eventually bring them to fruition. We certainly look forward to making this ground even more accessible and female friendly in the near future.”
Ms Altair added that the Victorian Government has been ‘strongly committed’ to supporting the needs of both the council and the community, as well as more broadly supporting facility upgrades in Hobsons Bay.
“In the last year alone, Sport and Recreation Victoria has committed to four separate funding packages towards local sporting ground upgrades. Combined, this is an impressive total of $3.7 million of state funding that’s going to go towards those upgrades,” she said.
The upgrades will be funded through the State Government’s $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure Loans scheme, which provides low-interest loans of between $500,000 and $10 million to improve community sport and recreation infrastructure.
AFL Victoria also announced it will contribute $273,000 to the project, with the facilities and lights upgrade at Burbank Oval understood to be part of Williamstown Football Club’s $4.6 million redevelopment plans.