Ex-student behind school pitch project
Sport has opened doors for Annalie Longo and she is hoping other young sportsmen and women will follow in her footsteps.
The Football Fern is supporting Epsom Girls Grammar School’s Leading Women in Sport campaign to raise $7 million to build a world-class sports complex for both the students and the wider community.
The complex will include an indoor arena with two full-sized multi-use courts for netball, basketball, volleyball, badminton and dance, an all-weather multiuse covered outdoor arena and three competition tennis courts.
Longo is an Epsom Girls Grammar School Old Girl, breaking records on the pitch during her time at the school.
She made her full New Zealand debut aged 15 years to become the youngest Football Fern on record and her appearance in the 2007 World Cup at the age of 16 made her the second youngest player, of either gender, to play at a senior World Cup.
Professional facilities can be the difference between children playing regular sport or missing out, she says.
Young athletes often face cancelled games because of sodden pitches.
‘‘It will really make a difference. I remember playing on this field and in winter if it rained it was like playing on a big paddock.’’
Sport has given her opportunities that she might not have had otherwise, including taking up a university scholarship.
‘‘I was able to travel the world and to see amazing places while essentially playing with my friends.’’
The school needs something that is better, or at least on the same level, as private schools, she says.
‘‘We need a facility that will have multi-use so that we can try to help as many kids at the school as possible. These days I have to travel to the North Shore to train. I know people would appreciate another alternative that would be open to the top sportswomen and men.’’
Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes says there is a shortage of sports fields and open spaces in the Albert-Eden area.
‘‘At the moment we are hugely under-resourced so we are absolutely delighted we will be able to share this wonderful facility,’’ Mr Haynes says.
The school has raised $2.65m so far, which includes a $200,000 grant from Auckland Council as part of its Regional Facility Partnership Fund.
Stage one of the project has already been completed with the building of the indoor arena.
The netball courts will be reconfigured to become one main international-sized court with spectator seating in stage two of the development to accommodate about 1500 people.
The school hopes this will allow for the possibility to host events such as the World Masters Games in 2017.
A further $200,000 is needed before building can start on stage two of the project and another $4m is required to develop the sports arena and courts.
Provided the remaining funds can be raised, the school hopes to showcase the completed complex at its centenary in 2017.
Kick-off: Annalie Longo, a Football Fern and Epsom Girls Grammar School Old Girl, is supporting the school’s campaign to build a worldclass sports complex.