Upgrade to factor in females

With architect’s plans completed for a modern new NIFNC clubhouse there are smiles all round as club officials and players look forward to a bright sporting future (from left) Shaun Lyons, Katelyn Johnson, Pippa Smith, Isabelle Ewers, Mark Savage (and front) Campbell Lyons, Juhleeya Bright, Jasmin Gilmour and Lily Sergeant.

Moves are underway to put Narrandera Sportsground on the map as the Riverina’s premier sporting venue.

Building on to the major improvement of 2005 when floodlights were installed around the ground’s perimeter, the Narrandera Imperial Football Netball Club has sets its sight on building a modern new clubhouse to double as a community centre.

Club member Gavin Sullivan said plans had been drafted by an architect and a sub-committee formed to advance the project, which is estimated to cost about $1.8 million. The club plans to submit an application for a grant from the NSW Government Regional Sports Infrastructure Fund and in association with the AFL can raise 25 percent of the cost, a requirement of the grant.

“We are seeking the support and financial assistance of Narrandera Shire Council to raise the remainder,” Mr Sullivan said. “The first critical date in the application process is May 4 which is the date that expression of interest is to be submitted to the grants unit.”

Narrandera Imperial Football – Netball Club representatives (back from left) Graham Flynn, club president Mark Savage, Gavin Sullivan and (front from left) Ron Absolom and junior rugby league president Shaun Lyons display the plans for the proposed NIFNC Community Centre at the Narrandera Sportsground.

The club proposes to build the larger and better-equipped clubhouse on the site of the existing building. Women participating as AFL players and umpires will be among the beneficiaries of the modern new clubrooms, with the plans providing for women’s change and shower rooms for the first time. At it is now, female players have to go home if they want a shower. It is thought the new amenities will help get an AFL senior women’s team up and running along with other women’s sports.

This improvement was applauded by Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke who has thrown her support behind the project.

“Welcoming and facilitating the current tidal wave of female participation in sport is something I am proud to see community organisations and Councils around my electorate undertaking and this worthy project is a prime example,” Ms Cooke said.

She said the project would see the sporting-proud community of Narrandera benefit directly through the injection of funds from visitors and participants and indirectly through promotion of the town. The proposed new clubroom/community centre will include kitchen and bar facilities, a larger verandah viewing area than the present and will be accessible to disabled patrons.

Another plus is the provision of room for specialised medical and physiotherapy providers to offer their services at sporting fixtures.

Mr Sullivan said the building will be available for use by all community groups. He said it would also be an ideal facility to house evacuees during times of flood, fire or other natural disasters or emergencies. The project has the backing of Narrandera Community and Friends Association.

In a letter to Narrandera Mayor Neville Kschenka, Association president David Farley said he understood the proposed sportsground upgrade would secure the sportsground’s position as the premium regional venue for sporting events including the Riverina Football League grand final.

“Improvements to this most valuable of Narrandera assets will see it accommodate the changing nature of our sporting interests and more gender participation in sport,” Mr Farley said.

Detailed drawings of the proposed new clubhouse/ community centre have been given to the Council which is expected to  consider the requested support at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.

In a letter to the General Manager George Cowan, Mr Sullivan said the club believed it met the grant criteria all aspects and that the proposal would benefit Narrandera and surrounding districts.

“Because of this, it is considered that a strategic partnership between Council and NIFNC would be the most appropriate and beneficial way to proceed with the application,” he said.

The sportsground is one of Narrandera’s most popular amenities,  enjoyed by up to 450 players, family and friends annually.

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