$26m hub to give soccer a kick along

Extract from The Advertiser, Thursday February 8th

A NEW $26 million soccer hub featuring a 5000-capacity stadium, four synthetic pitches, an indoor futsal complex and 10 outdoor five-a-side courts will be built at Gepps Cross. The Advertiser can exclusively reveal Football Federation SA has received State Government funding to establish a State Centre of Football on 15ha of vacant land at the State Sports Park. The governing body believed the facility, which would be operational by 2020, would boost participation numbers beyond the 40,000 men, women and juniors who play the game in SA. It would also provide a venue for local club games, state development programs, and national and international tournaments, as well as school and community group use. FFSA chief executive Michael Carter said the “world class” complex would attract up to 1500 participants weekly. “It’s got great potential to be the best (soccer) centre in Australia,” Carter said.

“It’s something all of the football community can be very proud of because they’re all going to get an opportunity to participate out of it. “For this to come to fruition is wonderful for the game and it will be a game-changer for the state.” The centre will boast a main artificial pitch with a 1000-seat grandstand and standing areas for an extra 4000 spectators. The ground would be capable of hosting men’s and women’s National Premier Leagues SA games and FFA Cup matches. It would also be compliant for W-League and National Youth League clashes and would be a potential training venue should Australia stage the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Three additional full-sized synthetic pitches, two with 200-seat stands, are also planned along with change rooms, a gymnasium and a football museum. An indoor futsal centre, with three courts suitable for hosting national championships, will be built at the complex, while FFSA will move its administration headquarters to the site. Carter said participation numbers would be boosted by the five-a-side pitches, which would host social competitions similar to popular centres interstate and overseas.

“This is for seven-day-a-week, 40-minute games for children right through to 60-year-old adults who used to play but don’t have the ability to participate any more,” Carter said. “It will be a real destination for spectators to enjoy, and also for players to experience what it’s like to play at a world-class facility. “The whole facility will be made available to all clubs, including amateur league clubs. “It allows us to consolidate all of our pathway programs for the boys and girls at one venue, and it’s in the heartland of football.” The State Government committed $19 million to stage one of the project which would begin this year on land east of the Croatian Sports Centre. It would likely include the main pitch, second full-sized field, futsal and five-a-side complexes, and administration centre. Carter said the federation would seek the remaining $7 million from other partners to complete the hub.

Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the centre would enhance SA’s reputation as “the spiritual home of Australian football”. “It will enable the FFSA to develop the game at a community level while hosting national and international competitions,” Koutsantonis said. The complex will house a multicultural program aimed at educating young migrants through football and creating employment opportunities. Its construction will also open up space at existing venues for Fulham United to relocate to Adelaide Shores and Adelaide Olympic to move its junior teams to the Parks. Olympic chairman Stavros Parissos said consolidating his club’s 160 junior players with their senior counterparts at the Angle Park ground would allow it to grow. “Our juniors from day one have been saying ‘when can we move there with our seniors’ because where they are Ferryden Park, they’re not able take on more kids,” Parissos said. “We’ve only got one team in each age group because we’ve had to knock back so many kids. “Now we can consolidate the whole club and have one venue for all our juniors and seniors, and all of our volunteers who are exhausted from having to go between multiple venues.” Parissos backed the Gepps Cross centre which he said would help SA catch up to facilities in other states and promote active lifestyles among participants of all ability levels. Fulham United junior player Remi Maunder was looking forward to trying out the new pitches. The nine-year-old, who dreamt of playing for Adelaide United and the Matildas, hoped to see some of her idols train there if Australia secured the 2023 Women’s World Cup. “It would be pretty fun to play soccer on the new fields,” Remi said. “And the (women’s) World Cup would be cool. I’d like to go and watch that.” The State Government funding formed part of $30 million in grants handed out for projects at the State Sports Centre. This included an $8 million Super-drome upgrade and $2 million BMX training facility, as previously reported by The Advertiser. It would also fund a $1 million change room redevelopment at the State Hockey Centre. Read full article.