Minister for Sport, John Eren recently joined members of locals sports clubs at Gardiner Reserve in Gisborne to announce more than 100 female friendly facilities projects had been funded from the Victorian Government's Female Friendly Facilities Fund.
He announced $100,000 from the fund to upgrade the outdated change facilities at Gardiner Reserve so they were female friendly.
Women and girls are signing up to play local sport in record numbers across Victoria, but many facilities were outdated, poor or didn’t even exist.
Projects supported by the fund include building new pavilions or upgrading old ones to facilitate female participation – featuring unisex and accessible change rooms for players and umpires.
So far the fund has delivered almost $10 million towards $60 million worth of projects across the state, helping more than 200 clubs transform ageing facilities and provide more opportunities for women and girls to play the sports they love.
This is one of the biggest ever investments in women’s participation in sport by any state in Australia.
The result is a win for everyone involved, with significantly improved facilities and flexible change rooms providing more scheduling options for games and practice for all teams.
Speaking at the announcement, Minister Eren talked of how easy it was for his sons to play football, but when his daughter signed up to play there were no girls teams and no changerooms, so she had to get dressed and shower at home, and could not mix with her male team members.
He stressed women deserved the same opportunities as men and the Victorian Government was committed to fostering women in sport. He said the Victorian initiative was now being copied by other states.
Dr Bridie O’Donnell has recently been appointed Head, Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria.
Speaking at the announcement, Dr O’Donnell said she was inspired by the massive surge in interest in women’s sport and recreation, and a key to turning that interest into active participation was suitable facilities.
Dr O’Donnell urged girls and women to embrace sport and maintain their participation, whether as a player, administrator, umpire or volunteer.
One of the guests at the announcement was Bendigo local Kerryn Harrington who was recently recruited to the inaugural Carlton women’s AFL team.
Ms Harrington said that in her sporting career she had seen significant improvement in sporting facilities, and this helped attract women players and raise the profile of women’s sport.
She also spoke of the importance of female friendly sporting facilities in regional areas, where sport was always an integral part of the community.
President of the Kyneton District Soccer Club, Ron Cole said the club had installed female friendly facilities a few years ago.
Mr Cole said before then the girls either got dressed at home, or a parent had to stand outside the change rooms while the girls got changed.
He said now the new change rooms had clearly helped attract new female players to the club.
The club has just received a grant to help install new lighting at its home ground, so the ground can be better utilised in the evening to cope with the growing number of teams.
Visit our Community Sports Infrastructure Fund webpage or you can contact your local Sport and Recreation Victoria representative for more information.