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.
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.”