The importance of communities having high-standard sporting amenities was highlighted this week when the Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Sport Danielle Green visited Mildura to officially open some recently completed $2.2 million worth of projects.

Primary amongst the facilities to have been upgraded, was the Merbein Football and Netball Club change rooms and amenities rebuild project, which cost $1,466,393.

Funding for the Kenny Park facilities came from Federal, State and Council contributions and included $500,000 from the State Government’s Female Friendly Facilities Fund.

The new change rooms replace the previous club rooms, which were in need of upgrading prior to them being severely damaged by a tornado-like storm in November, 2016, which tore across parts of the district, inflicting major damage.

The resulting damage provided the Mildura Rural City Council with an opportunity to review the site and the needs of existing users, including football, netball and cricket.

The result was a new state-of-the-art unisex female-friendly change room facility which is able to accommodate netball and football during winter and cricket in summer.

In addition to eliminating barriers to female participation in sport, the new facilities provided new public toilets, umpire change rooms, storage and a kiosk.

Minister Green, who is a former Mildura resident said that all levels of government like to build-back-better.

“I am delighted to see how these club rooms have been built back better. In particular the new facilities have addressed the growth in women and girl’s sport,” she said.

“Just to have female friendly change rooms can make all the difference to the participants.
“As a former netballer here in Mildura – I played at Mansell Reserve- and I pay tribute to the Mildura Rural City Council, who I believe were the first council in the state to have had a women’s sports reserve, and when I moved here as a teenager, I was shocked that there was a facility dedicated to women’s sport.
“Since then, the council and the community have continued to show that they support women’s sport, and when you see facilities of the quality here at the Merbein Football and Netball Club’s Kenny Park home, that commitment is reinforced.
“I would like to acknowledge the Mildura Rural City Council for contributing $816,000 to the project, which is a Herculean effort for a regional municipality, and AFL Victoria for it’s $75,000 contribution and the Merbein Football and Netball Club with their $75,000 in-kind contribution.”

Mildura Mayor Jason Modica thanked the Victorian Government for their contribution and also Merbein Football Club president Toney Hurley, who he said had worked closely with the Council’s staff throughout the project over a number of years.

“We appreciate the hard work you have put in Toney and for your club’s contribution to the project,” Cr Modica said.

“These change rooms represent a ‘night to day’ difference compared to the facilities they replaced. Even before the storm all but flattened the club rooms, they were in need of replacing.
“The club must be delighted with the outcome, and while it’s disappointing that it took a storm to facilitate the project, to be standing in front of this new amenity is a major improvement.
“In replacing the old change rooms, these facilities offer a range of new features, including state-of-the-art unisex female friendly change rooms, which is a major step
forward in eliminating barriers to female participation in sport in our region.”

Mr Hurley also thanked the Minister and her government for it’s significant contribution to the project.

“Without your financial assistance this project wouldn’t of happened as we all know,” he said.

“I would also like to thank the Mildura Rural City Council. Your contribution was fantastic, albeit the road was a little rocky at first while we came to agreement of some things, but it all worked out and we are so happy to have these new facilities which are the best in Sunraysia and without your assistance as well. it would not have happened.”