6 November 2022

ACT Government commences upgrades to make sports grounds more female-friendly

| Evelyn Karatzas
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people standing on oval

Sheridan Lockerbie and Emma Zouch from the Magpies, and Steve Mahar (AFL) at the Kippax playing fields Photo: Evelyn Karatzas.

The ACT Government has commenced upgrades to sporting grounds across the capital to make them more inclusive and female-friendly.

The upgrades will improve community access for training and match play, as well as cricket facilities, irrigation and drainage upgrades, including installing new LED lighting.

Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry said the government is committed to reducing barriers to participation for women and girls in sport and recreation activities.

“We are upgrading facilities to include new partitions, shelves and mirrors,” Ms Berry said.

“Having these changeroom inclusions available across Canberra will not only cater to the growing participation of females in sport but also provide them with the facilities they both need and deserve.”

Construction for female-friendly improvements to pavilions in Nicholls, Rivett, and Kambah commenced this week, and in 2023, upgrades to Kingston Oval will follow.

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Ms Berry said the government spent $2.8 million upgrading community sports fields and facilities in the past year.

“Once complete, this project will increase the capacity of not only the Holt District Playing Fields but also West Belconnen for more training and match play facilities for organised sport,” she said.

Over the next 12 months, Watson, Deakin, and Scullin sports grounds will also receive new lighting, and sports grounds in Gowrie and Higgins will have their lighting upgraded.

The ACT Government will also replace the fencing at the Kaleen and Boomanulla enclosed ovals and improve the facilities at the Ngunnawal neighbourhood oval with parking improvements and a new toilet block in 2023.

There will also be upgrades to lighting so people can play and train at night.

“This means that those fields will be used efficiently, but also that people can feel safe playing and training on them at night with good lighting,” Ms Berry said.

Yvette Berry

Minister for Sport and Recreation Yvette Berry at the Kippax playing fields. Photo: Evelyn Karatzas.

Ms Berry said one of the barriers young women and girls faced in sports was the ability to use change rooms and facilities that meet their needs.

“They were designed by men, for men, 30 to 40 years ago, and not for women and girls,” she said.

“There was never any thought given to women and girls participating in sports, particularly in sports like rugby league and rugby union, so our goal now is to make sure that our facilities meet their needs and also that they feel safe when they come and use these facilities as well.

“We want women and girls to feel more welcomed and that sports are inclusive for everybody, regardless of their gender.”

girl holding football

Emma Zouch has been playing for the Magpies since 2013. Photo: Evelyn Karatzas.

Belconnen Magpies senior women’s player Emma Zouch said the new upgrades would allow more flexibility for the Magpies as they’ll be able to have junior teams training and playing at the same time, as well as being able to mix the senior boys and girls teams.

“My understanding is that we’ll have our own spaces,” Emma said.

“They will help our players feel more comfortable, safe and welcomed in the environment when they go to play or train.

“I think they will really be beneficial on game days, especially if we get that new outdoor barbecue area because there’s a real community sort of feel to the club and I think with better facilities it will become much more welcoming.”

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Emma said it was very exciting to have the “nice, new, and comfortable” facilities getting built and upgraded, especially the changerooms.

“I think people won’t be worried about who’s coming in or doing what in the change rooms, then they will be able to focus on preparation for the game,” she said.

“It will also give players somewhere to celebrate after their games and leave their gear when they are training or playing.

“For me personally, I’m due for my second baby, so it’ll be nice to be able to come back to the sport I love and know that I’ll have a space where I’ll be able to feed him after the game, or during if I need to.”

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From the number of comments from SigmaOctantis it seems he isn’t fond of women’s participation in sports. From my experience it is good to know that people who hold SigmaOctantis’s views are in the minority. I am also pleased we have a political party in power who believe in equality of opportunity in sports including women’s participation. What could be better than government’s encouraging greater participation in sports and physical activities to help them enjoy healthier, happier and more productive lives. It makes good sense! Stop being miserable SigmaOctantis you ought to go out and try it. Don’t be a Norm, get out and get a life!

Andrew Phillips7:41 pm 07 Nov 22

I think you might have misunderstood me Jack (sorry, can’t work out how to reply to your reply). I’m all for women’s sport and greater inclusivity. But it seems incongruous for the government to be trumpeting funding for changing room upgrades (important though they may be) when the oval itself has been neglected and is currently unusable for either women or men’s sport!

You”re right Andrew Phillips maybe many of these old ovals could be rejuvenated for organised sport including some in Belconnen. The old Holder Primary and High school ovals for example were beautiful and much loved sports grounds over a number of years for many and well maintained

Andrew Phillips5:39 pm 07 Nov 22

Rivett oval is a shadow of its former self and is currently unusable for any form of organised sport. It has been completely overrun by weeds, and basically looks a mess. Maybe the actual quality of the oval should be a higher priority than mirrors in the changing rooms?

No Andrew Phillips women’s sport is more than “mirrors in changing rooms”. Your comment highlights the “higher priority” men’s sport has taken in modern Australia and the lack of encouragement and respect governments have taken towards women’s sports.

This is wonderful news. It is a topic close to my heart and I have been following progress over the last number of years. It was debated in the Assembly a few years ago. Opposition sports spokesman, that funny man Mark Parton, expressed his party’s lack of commitment to the initiative in response to a motion to make sports more accessible and female inclusive in the ACT. He claimed the motion was rambling and vacuous, a meaningless motherhood statement waste-of-time proposal. There have been so many barriers to women and young girls participation in sports. Opening pathways to traditionally male dominated sports like AFL, Rugby Union and Rugby League can only be a good move. It is great to see the government recognising this. We have ageing and male dominated sports grounds in Canberra. The government has recognised how important it is to have better facilities for women to participate. This includes installing or upgrading changing rooms so women don’t have to change in their cars.

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