The quality and quantity of football fields in local communities across NSW simply does not match the popularity of the sport.
With such extensive participation numbers in football, infrastructure becomes a vital piece in ensuring players have an enjoyable experience.
In fact, inadequate facilities are holding participation numbers back in many areas of Sydney.
Football NSW CEO Stuart Hodge reiterated his thoughts on the lack of pitches holding back growth and enjoyment of football.
“Our recent Football Facilities Audit shows that by 2030 football in NSW will be 700 pitches short for the expected 120,000 additional participants that will be participating in football," he said.
“We continue to urge all levels of government to work together and invest in the largest and most diverse sporting code in the country.”
Football NSW’s extensive facilities audit revealed some alarming statistics across NSW which included:
· 32% of playing fields have no lighting
· 42% of fields have lighting which is considered inadequate for football
· 45% of fields have no irrigation at all
· Only 12% of change rooms are female friendly
· Only 19% of match official provisions are female friendly
Females make up almost 25% of football participation in NSW but as the facilities audit has highlighted, 88% of change rooms across the state are not female friendly and are forcing women and girls to get changed in sub-par conditions.
“For football, indeed any sport, facilities are critical to growing participation in the local community, and improving the quality and increasing the quantity of infrastructure across NSW will see social and health benefits filter through to all participants,” Hodge said.
“The physical and mental health benefits delivered by football to the NSW community are simply astonishing.
“The annual community contribution which football provides through reducing common diseases is valued at $4.6 million.
Our diverse and accepting culture towards people from all backgrounds and abilities, serves to unite and strengthen our community bonds and further emphasises football’s social impact to the state of NSW.”
NSW Football clubs alone, bring together people of different ages, genders and backgrounds. Football transcends race, religion and gender to create community connections.
The glue that brings all this together is infrastructure.
Football NSW and Northern NSW Football are currently engaging in a Football Infrastructure Strategy for the next 10 years (2020 – 2030) which will shape facility development for football in NSW.
This piece of work will allow the engagement of the entire football hierarchy and most importantly the three tiers of government, local, state and federal.
Featured picture: courtesy Football NSW