The $28m sports hub proposed for Springs Road in Mt Barker is a concept needed by this growing community.
Plans for two football ovals, four soccer pitches, eight netball and six tennis courts as well as a 350-seat function centre will have a positive impact on this rapidly growing district and play a vital role in improving the lives of young participants.
It is often said that sport is the glue which binds country communities together and it develops a sense of place and a feeling of wellbeing like few other activities.
Sadly there are no ovals in the district which meet the requirements for AFL games or SA National Football League (SANFL) matches.
The Mt Barker football oval degenerates into a quagmire most winters and the neighboring recreation centre leaks during wet weather and swelters in the heat.
It’s fair to say that football and basketball – two of the most popular spectator and participation sports in Australia – are poorly serviced in Mt Barker.
But the cost of the proposed sports hub means it is years away from becoming a reality and is well beyond the reach of the Mt Barker Council alone.
Without the input of both State and Federal governments as well as major stakeholders including the AFL and the SANFL, the dream will never become a reality.
However, the council is keeping all the important players ‘in the loop’ during the initial stages in what appears to be a planned and co-ordinated strategy.
The council move this week to support St Francis de Sales College’s $7.5m indoor sports centre is another indicator that the council recognises its limitations and is prepared to enter partnerships to achieve a community benefit.
It would be impossible for the council to build four basketball courts for less than the $1.1m it will contribute to the Catholic school’s project.
The yet-to-be negotiated joint-use agreement between the council and the college must ensure the facility is open to the public at all times to allow the wider district’s basketball players to finally have a secure and comfortable playing arena.
Sport is a national obsession and further increasing its prominence at a grass roots level will do nothing but good for our community.