19 June 2019

Woden left in the cold as Government looks to expand indoor sports facilities in Canberra's north

| Lachlan Roberts
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Indoor sports facilities in Canberra's south is close to breaking point. File photo.

Indoor sports facilities in Canberra’s south is close to breaking point. File photo.

Woden council and sporting groups believe the ACT Government has left the south of Canberra out in the cold with a shortage of indoor sports facilities.

In a report into indoor sports facilities released last week, the ACT Government identified Belconnen and Gungahlin as regions for expanded or new indoor sports facilities for futsal, gymnastics and basketball.

Despite Woden CIT closing down and Woden’s basketball stadium being demolished, the ACT Government is looking to build new futsal courts at the ‘Home of Football’ in Throsby, a new gymnastics state training centre in Belconnen and expanding Belconnen Basketball Stadium to have three more courts.

The report’s findings did not include a multi-purpose sports stadium for Woden, which has left Woden Valley Community Council furious, with president Fiona Carrick saying the decision will exacerbate the shortage of indoor facilities in Canberra’s south.

“We strongly object to the report prioritising more dedicated, single-sport facilities in the north of Canberra rather than indoor multi-use facilities for local sports and residents in Canberra’s south,” Ms Carrick said.

“It completely overlooks the needs of the existing population in the south of Canberra and the significant densification and population growth that is taking place.

“The logic of the report is flawed because it focuses on the needs of three sports – basketball, gymnastics and futsal – and their high-performance requirements rather than the needs of the broader community to access indoor sports facilities.

“We don’t need a dedicated facility for a particular sport. We want a multi-purpose that we can all share and we can build community by everybody coming together and using this facility.

“The south of Canberra needs a facility and Woden is the ideal location. Why is it not being considered?”

The council and local sporting groups in Canberra’s south have written to Sports Minister Yvette Berry to express their concerns about the evidence base, assumptions, findings and lack of consultation in the report.

Roller derby competitions have been forced to move to Queanbeyan to continue playing. File photo.

The Woden Valley Community Council has also prepared a proposal for a $30 million multi-purpose indoor sports stadium in Woden to facilitate discussion with the ACT Government, which will provide facilities for basketball, netball, futsal, gymnastics, badminton and roller derby, which have limited access to indoor sports facilities.

Roller derby enthusiast Emma Davidson has been advocating for a new facility in Woden since the basketball stadium was torn down and said the ACT Government’s decision was focused on elite sports rather than the grassroots level.

“There were social sporting groups that were hiring Woden basketball courts for their club to use and when they were knocked down, some of them were able to find places to go in Tuggeranong but there were clubs that had nowhere to go so they folded,” she shared.

“A roller derby competition was renting space in Woden CIT till they were kicked out and then they moved to Hedley Beare Centre in Stirling while another competition had to move to Queanbeyan.”

Despite Belconnen Basketball Stadium’s potential upgrade, Weston Creek Woden Dodgers Basketball Club president Ashley Cross said his club uses southside high school gyms to train and said the real pressure is on game day.

“There are a lot of junior sides coming out of Woden, Weston Creek and the south Canberra area,” he shared. “There is no doubt that we need indoor facilities on the south side of Canberra.

“When you look at what we have in Canberra compared to regional towns of Wodonga, Wagga or Newcastle, our basketball facilities are totally sub-par.

“We support Basketball ACT’s efforts of working with the ACT Government for a solution, but there is no doubt that since they closed the facility in Woden, there has been increased pressure on courts on the south side.

“It is quite expensive for non-school clubs such as ours to hire facilities, but it’s on game days and during competitions that the pressure is really on. Some kids games start at 8 am on Sunday morning to fit every game in on the weekend.”

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Robert Issell4:58 pm 20 Jun 19

It is a disgrace the way this Government is allocating and funding Indoor Sporting facilities in the ACT.
It obviously does not care about residents in the South of Canberra. It talks about taking cars off the roads and then has families in the South constantly having to drive north every night and weekends for their children or themselves to play their chosen Indoor Sport because the only multi court venue in the South of Canberra is in Tuggeranong and privately owned by the Southern Cross Club which is not capable of meeting all of the demand in the South.
With the closure of MPowerdome some 3 years ago 3,500 users per week have been put out in the cold not to mention how many more when the Indoor Facility in Woden was sold off and pulled down not to be replaced.
Social interaction in a Multi-Sports Community Facility is what Woden lacks for its growing population base to strengthen the interaction and welfare of its residents. Social issues, isolation and loneliness are caused as a result of the lack of such facilities.
The 5 MLA’s representing this area should band together and fight for what the area needs and not allow the imbalance of facilities to continue to down grade the value of our area whilst the north of Canberra continues to expand it’s indoor sports assets.
Yes, we have AFL for the elite and Cricket for the elite but what about the thousands of others who want to play Netball, Futsal, Basketball, Roller derby, Badminton, Table Tennis in their local communities in the South.
Thousands of cars are on the roads driving north and south every day of the week because of this imbalance. This is not right and you need to rethink and fix this.

Surely, after all this time, the Govt and the current owners / lessors of the Mpowerdome site can come to an agreement and allow people to use that facility once more.
The thing is just sitting there wasting away.
I know its no good for Basketball but certainly netball, Tennis, indoor soccer, indoor cricket or cricket training, whatever it was that they did in there with unicycles…..

It seemed such a good facility, (albiet, with not a lot of parking),

Has the ACT Government pulled out of its funding for the new netball stadium at Calwell?

Woden and Tuggeranong have certainly lost a lot of indoor sporting facilities including the Basketball centre, Mpowerdome and a number of closed public schools whose Gym halls used to provide Tuggeranong kids with martial arts classes, dance, gymnastics and Badminton etc.

Woden Valley Community Council9:14 pm 20 Jun 19

We have been advised that:
The ACT Government commitment for the proposed netball facility in Calwell, as announced, was subject to the outcome of the Federal election.

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