The battle for a Senate seat has come to Canberra’s ‘Home of Football’, with Liberal Zed Seselja and Independent David Pocock both pledging to send millions of dollars its way if elected.
Located on the corner of Horse Park Drive and Gecko Way in Throsby, the Home of Football is a joint project between the ACT Government and Capital Football.
Together they are investing $33.5 million in the project, designed to satisfy the need for a dedicated sports facility in the Gungahlin region. Features include multiple outdoor football fields, indoor futsal courts, community fields, office space, and other amenities.
The first sod on Stage One will be turned in mid-2022. It is understood an extra $10 million is needed to finish the job.
If the Liberals are re-elected on 21 May, Senator Zed Seselja said the Federal Government would contribute $4.5 million.
“This critical funding will support the delivery of additional football fields in Gungahlin, and much-needed indoor sports courts for Futsal and basketball,” he said.
“Next year Australia will host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will provide a platform that inspires girls to give football a go, and Canberra’s new Home of Football will mean the Canberra community has the facilities to help young athletes thrive.”
Independent candidate David Pocock responded by raising the bid.
“What I find disappointing is the Federal Government’s failure to fully fund the gap needed to get this project in its entirety over the line,” he said.
“Senator Seselja is offering less than half of what is needed as a last-minute election announcement that is just a promise rather than actual funding. This is yet another example of Canberra being thrown the crumbs, and even then only when a seat is under serious threat.”
Capital Football CEO Chris Gardiner welcomed the political momentum towards a Federal contribution.
“On the face of it, what has been committed suggests that whoever is in government, there will be additional funds – I’m pretty encouraged,” he said.
“If the next government provides $10 million, the whole project would go ahead, and that would be primarily community fields and an additional training field for Canberra United.”
He said the contributions also bring the ACT in line with the states when it comes to sports funding.
“Other states have received quite significant funding grants towards the Home of Football projects. The commitment from Seselja goes toward that kind of ACT equity, and I think Pocock is right in saying that it should be the whole funding gap.”
While the Home of Football may be in the election spotlight, Mr Gardiner said the individual sports clubs have a “backlog of work” needed to bring their own facilities up to scratch, especially when it comes to women’s facilities.
“What they need is a better plan around more fields, more indoor facilities, and better amenities that promote female participation,” he said.