The University’s field-based sports clubs have welcomed the plan for new sporting facilities contained in the plans for the redevelopment of the Sandy Bay campus, saying it will allow them to accommodate burgeoning growth in women’s and junior ranks.
“This would be a dream come true for us,” the President of the University Soccer Club, Ellisa Bowditch said. “The proposed facilities would mean we could be sure of playing and training all year in all weather.”
Under the proposal the University Soccer Club moves from Olinda Grove in Mt Nelson to the sports precinct on Sandy Bay Rd.
“The grounds at Olinda Grove don’t deal well with the winter weather and are falling apart by the end of the season. Training and games regularly have to be cancelled,” she said. Despite these challenges, this year the club has added two more junior teams and seen a record number of new female players sign up.
The redevelopment will provide a precinct that can accommodate sporting fixtures up to State championship level. It adds two FIFA approved pitches – one of which will be used for rugby and soccer – and significantly upgrades the existing cricket/AFL ground. The Unigym and current sports hall are retained, while change rooms, an administration hub, indoor cricket training area, natural turf cricket nets, new indoor multipurpose hall, dojo and car parking are added. A new pavilion will serve the AFL/cricket ground.
The President of the Tasmanian University Rugby Union Football Club, Jordan Ryan, said: “We are excited to continue to consult on the sports precinct redevelopment and want to ensure that amenities are improved to an appropriate standard. Our aim is to improve our facilities without compromising our values, history and identity as one of the oldest rugby clubs in Tasmania.”
Gene Phair, President of the University Cricket Club, said the club was “beyond 100% supportive” of the new plans. “This is the most exciting period for our club in recent memory,” he said.
Gene said the University Cricket Club was seeing a big increase in the demand on facilities because of the club’s growth through women and junior ranks. He said the existing change rooms were now way too small and lacked privacy. The largest amount of growth in the club was in the 7 to 17 age group. “We have a couple of hundred juniors and at the moment our facilities aren’t able to grow at the same rate as our membership.”
University AFL Club President Luke Bartulovic said that growth at the club – particularly through women’s participation – was changing the way the club needed to plan for the future. The club has 70 members in two men’s teams (seniors and reserves). It has 40 to 50 female members and hopes to grow from one to two women’s teams. He said current facilities were “past their expiry date” and his club was excited that the development plan accommodated the changes that are under way in AFL participation.
The University of Tasmania’s Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Penny Ratcliffe, said the University sporting clubs were a special part of university life for students and were a highly valued link between the University, alumni and the Tasmanian community.
“We are delighted to be planning such a significant upgrade of facilities and look forward to seeing the clubs grow and flourish in what will be an exciting new phase,” she said.