Northern NSW Football has welcomed the announcement that sports facilities across regional NSW will benefit from new and improved women’s change rooms and amenities thanks to $50 million in funding from the NSW government’s $2 billion Regional Growth Fund.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Acting Minister for Sport Geoff Lee announced on Wednesday that round four of the $100 million Stronger Country Communities Fund will have a regional sports focus, with up to $50 million to be made available for the delivery and enhancement of women’s sporting facilities, including change rooms.
Northern NSW Football CEO David Eland said the announcement was a huge relief for football in northern NSW.
“The NSW Government’s announcement that up to $50 million from the Stronger Country Communities Fund has been reserved to specifically improve women’s sporting facilities in regional NSW is a huge boost for the state’s largest club-based sport,” Mr Eland said.
“Community facilities throughout northern NSW are bursting at the seams and we have been and continue to be focused on building capacity for the game, particularly in the area of women’s facilities.
“Northern NSW Football teamed up with Football NSW to develop a comprehensive State Infrastructure Strategy which identified and supported the acute need to increase the number of facilities for women to use.
“We’ve identified this need for many years with the ever-increasing registrations of females in the game, which is why we addressed the need in our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan which includes six strategic initiatives.”
The initiatives are to:
- Release and implement state and regional infrastructure strategies
- Facilitate state government budget submission in conjunction with Football NSW
- Collaborate with Football Australia and Member Federations towards Federal government budget submission
- Develop LGA budget cycle calendar and key contact database
- Identify future 711 Facilities Projects
- Update Facilities Audit
Mr Barilaro said a lack of adequate facilities were a barrier to female participation in sport and the funding would provide new and improved amenities to make it easier for girls and women to dominate on the field.
“Women have been flying the flag for Australian sport with our international teams achieving incredible status on the world platform and many of these athletes come from regional communities,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Too many women participating in local soccer, AFL, rugby or cricket matches in rural and regional locations don’t have access to suitable changing facilities so the NSW government has committed this funding to level the playing field.
“Access to designated female change rooms will be of huge benefit to our future Matildas, Opals, Hockeyroos, Jillaroos and Wallaroos, as well as local athletes.”
Mr Lee agreed the provision of new and improved female change rooms was a step that would encourage more women to step out on the court or field.
“In many areas of regional NSW there is a shortage of female dedicated change facilities and amenities, so this funding will be a huge win for women and girls who would have otherwise been deterred from playing sport.”
Minister for Women and Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor said women had been proudly stepping onto the pitch for years now and this next round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund would address a barrier for females when it came to entering local and regional sport.
“I know this funding will be warmly welcomed by female athletes in regional communities who will now face one less barrier to taking up a sport,” Mrs Taylor said.
“Clubs and community sport provide friendship, fitness and a lot of fun and I’m delighted that this funding has been made available as a means of boosting participation in women’s sport.
The remaining $50 million of the Stronger Country Communities Fund Round Four will be made available for further high-quality community amenity and sports-related infrastructure projects to meet strong demand.
Applications for round four of the program will open from 1 May 2021. Guidelines and information about eligible applicants will be available on the Regional Growth Fund website in coming months.