Volleyball Victoria board member, and Mildura Indoor Sporting Group spokesperson, Paul Freckleton, left, and Sunraysia Volleyball Inc. president, Chris Hermans, with plans for the proposed $500,000 beach volleyball site. The two organisations are advocating for the site to be incorporated as part of the proposed Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct. INSET: An artists’s drawing of the new court complex. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By VINNIE RODI

IN a major boost for the proposed $36million Mildura South Regional Sporting Precinct (MSRSP), Volleyball Victoria, together with Sunraysia Volleyball Inc. (SVI), will commit $500,000 to construct a beach volleyball space at the site.

According to plans released exclusively to the Mildura Weekly on Wednesday, Volleyball Victoria and SVI are proposing to modify the precinct’s draft plan to add a four-court beach volleyball component, which would be paid for, and funded by, the two organisations.

The proposed new area would include shaded and indoor viewing areas, a grassy mound viewing area and canteen and store facilities, with Volleyball Victoria vowing to utilise the site for State and national events, while also hopeful of attracting international competition.

Volleyball Victoria board member, and Mildura Indoor Sporting Group spokesperson, Paul Freckleton, said both Volleyball Victoria and SVI would submit the amendment to the MSRSP proposal as part of Mildura Rural City Council’s ongoing public consultation process, which ends on August 31.

He said Volleyball Victoria was committed to seeing the proposed precinct become a reality, while also transforming the site into its training and development hub in northwest Victoria.

“Should it go ahead, this would make Mildura the second home of volleyball in Victoria, as both disciplines (indoor and beach) will be at the one venue,” Mr Freckleton said. “The only other place where that is available is the State Volleyball Centre.

“The plan, if it gets built, is to ensure that our region can play host to regional, national and international events for both indoor and beach volleyball on a regular basis.

“With a facility like this we would be able to get not only the national events, but the world league beach volleyball here. What we also want to do with this facility is host a regular, once-a-year event in the Australian circuit, and once you do that it puts the venue on the map.

“This is the footprint we need for this site, and the sport is not asking for any contribution from ratepayers, government etc., it will be 100 percent paid for, and funded by, the partnership between Volleyball Victoria and Sunraysia Volleyball Inc.”

Mr Freckleton said beach volleyball is among the fastest growing sports in the world.

“More people watch beach volleyball at the Olympics for example than any other sport,” he said. “At the moment Sunraysia Volleyball has produced, for its size, quite a number of State and international representatives.

“Unfortunately none of those high-level players are entered into the beach side of our sport because we don’t have the facilities.”

SVI president, Chris Hermans, said not only would the proposed beach volleyball site offer an alternative for local volleyball players, but it would also complement traditional sports in the district.

“I think people are looking for diversity in sport… and volleyball is a sport that can be played at all different levels,” he said.

Earmarked for the corner of Sixteenth Street and Deakin Avenue, a draft business case for MSRSP was released earlier this month, and was developed in consultation with a stakeholder reference group, which included key tenants of the new facility.

Draft plans include a six-court indoor stadium, squash courts, a sports administration hub, change rooms, function rooms, café and alfresco area and two outdoor sporting fields, with the aim to host regional, State and national events.

The venue will also be able to host “a wide variety” of major indoor events, with a 3000-seat capacity for conventions, performances and other functions.

The $36million facility is also expected to generate more than $76million in economic benefits for the region through increased employment and flow-on benefits to other sectors.

A Mildura Rural City Council spokesperson yesterday said that the draft business case identifies Sunraysia Volleyball Inc. as a key tenant of the MSRSP.

“Council would welcome Volleyball Victoria’s feedback submission during the public exhibition period, which concludes next Thursday, August 31, particularly feedback that would add to the project’s objectives,” they said.