Walking through the Raiders impressive new high tech, high-performance facility, it’s easy to forget the club’s journey from humble origins to this point.
In the early days, the Queanbeyan Leagues Club was the administration hub housing all the coaching staff, with training conducted at Seiffert Oval.
Over the years, the Raiders administration staff and coaches have been based at a range of ad hoc locations around Canberra, making do as best they could. For example, one building used by the Raiders at Bruce is now home to a childcare centre.
Even the location that now boasts the Centre of Excellence has a history with the Raiders – it once housed a number of mobile huts for the Raiders coaches to use.
In more recent times, staff have been based at the Bruce Headquarters.
On-field training will still take place at Bruce until the grass is fully functional at Braddon but everything else has been relocated to the new Centre of Excellence.
And it’s an impressive facility.
Set in the middle of the city, it incorporates a state-of-the-art gymnasium, extensive physiotherapy and team meeting rooms, and an area set aside to record and analyse games.
It is a far cry from the days when the Raiders were seen to be inferior when it came to training facilities, compared to many of their rivals, including the Roosters, the Storm and the Broncos.
“This facility now sets the standard,” says Raiders chairman Allan Hawke.
It’s not just a facility for the Raiders, either. Country rugby league teams in Southern NSW will be able to use it for their high-performance programs.
Funding for the project came from the NSW and ACT Governments and the Raiders Group.
Raiders CEO Don Furner said the project has been in the pipeline for seven years: “This is the best example of cross-border funding. It offers kids in the region the same opportunity as they would in the city.”
What can’t be underestimated is the positive impact it will have on the playing group and players the Raiders are seeking to recruit.