University of Canberra (UC) director of sport and sporting celebrity Carrie Graf has cut the ribbon on a new sporting facility 18 months in the making.
The outdoor space on the university’s campus features a basketball court with futsal goals and an adjacent area with gym equipment.
People who don’t work or study at the university have been invited to use the space at no cost alongside staff and students.
The former Olympic and seven-time WNBL championship-winning coach said the space would help people stay active.
“It’s good for mental health. It’s good for your wellbeing to be connected with people,” Ms Graf said.
“And research tells us that people that have good physical health are engaged in sport.”
Ms Graf invited community members to use the new space at any hour of day or night.
“It’s not locked up, so you can shoot hoops or kick a goal at midnight and it’s a part of this Belconnen Boulevard,” she said.
“We call this Belconnen Boulevard because it takes you from the heart of the university right down to Belconnen.
“We’ve got a grocery store, cafes and UC bar, so it’s connecting sport to the other parts of the university.”
Ms Graf said she also hoped the new space would further connect the university with the surrounding community.
“People move through our university and we hope that continues into the future and this is one more connecting piece,” she said.
“Particularly in COVID, I noticed we had families come and use the five other half-court basketball courts around campus.”
Ms Graf was appointed director of sport in 2018, two years before COVID-19 hit Australia.
“We put a university-wide sports strategy in place [in 2021],” she said.
“Obviously, COVID didn’t allow us to do a lot of things.”
The strategy’s overall goal is for UC to become the country’s leading sport university by 2026.
The university wants to be known for its focus on women in sport, diversity and inclusion, and sports integrity.
The Basketball Australia Hall of Fame inductee said she had been continuing to chip away at the strategy after the COVID slowdown.
“We’ve got connections with our performance sport teams; the Brumbies are here on campus, UC Capitals, we’re a major sponsor of Canberra United,” Ms Graf said.
“We continue to do great research in the sport space, we’ve got elite athlete scholarships … work-integrated learning opportunities [and] opportunities to represent the university.”
Ms Graf said she was also excited about upcoming sports scholarships and leading the Australian Uniroos at the Summer World University Games in China this August.
“We’ve really been trying to drive everything about sport at this university,” she said.