Dreams of fields

Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby face a dire short­age of places to play sport. What’s be­ing done by lo­cal MPs and the Coun­cils to rem­edy this?

Monthly Chronicle - - Front Page -

The dire short­age of sports grounds in the area, and what's be­ing done about it

Both Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Coun­cils are fall­ing short of hav­ing enough sports grounds, leav­ing kids and sports clubs with nowhere to go and ex­ist­ing fields overused.

But both Coun­cils and lo­cal MPs are work­ing hard to turn this around.

A re­port last month by the North­ern Syd­ney Re­gion Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Coun­cils (NSROC) found that Ku-ring­gai, Hornsby, Ryde, Willoughby and Lane Cove lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas all fell short when it comes to sports fa­cil­i­ties.

It con­cluded we need 78 ex­tra sports fields by 2026 to meet de­mand, and 120 by 2036 if the pre­dicted pop­u­la­tion surge of 200,000 peo­ple be­comes a re­al­ity.

While Sports Min­is­ter Stu­art Ayres said lo­cal fa­cil­i­ties were the re­spon­si­bil­ity of lo­cal coun­cils, Ku-ring-gai MP Alis­ter Henskens said it wasn’t al­ways about throw­ing money at the prob­lem.

“This re­port is a wakeup call that we can­not be com­pla­cent about sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties,” he said. “It also shows that we need to be smart about the way we pro­vide fa­cil­i­ties for the fu­ture.

“To pro­duce as many fields as the re­port sug­gests would cost a for­tune - the stan­dard foot­ball field prob­a­bly costs around $10m to buy with North Shore land val­ues. It’s about mak­ing bet­ter use of what we have rather than start­ing again and build­ing lots of new fields when space is at a premium.”

He cites the ex­am­ple of the Nor­mal Grif­fiths Oval in West Pym­ble which he helped re­me­di­ate. “It’s low ly­ing and very soggy in win­ter and a dust bowl in sum­mer. No-one could use it for prac­tice dur­ing the week so that it was in good shape for week­end games.

“For an in­vest­ment of $1m funded by the state govern­ment and Ku-ring-gai Coun­cil, you get three times the use of the oval. They are now in the plan­ning stages of resur­fac­ing it with syn­thetic turf as well as new drainage and bet­ter flood lights.”

The MP sup­ported West Pym­ble Foot­ball Club’s suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tion for a $500,000 In­fra­struc­ture Grant and the Club’s suc­cess­ful ap­pli­ca­tion to the Min­is­ter for Sport for an Asian Cup Legacy Fund Grant of $150,000, both for resur­fac­ing works.

The MP has also be­come a match­maker, con­nect­ing groups in need with or­gan­i­sa­tions with un­der­used fa­cil­i­ties. “When I was at Nor­man­hurst Boys High the Prin­ci­pal told me a high per­cent­age of the boys love bas­ket­ball and that they need more in­door sports fa­cil­i­ties.

“I also re­cently met with Hornsby Spi­ders bas­ket­ball team. So I put the two to­gether and they’re now ap­ply­ing for De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion grants for courts they can both use at the school - the boys dur­ing school hours and the Spi­ders af­ter hours.

“As an MP I can bring to­gether peo­ple to find so­lu­tions to­gether. It’s about cre­ative think­ing to solve prob­lems to de­liver bet­ter sport­ing in­fra­struc­ture.”

Sim­i­larly at St Ives High he has en­cour­aged stake­hold­ers to get to­gether and fa­cil­i­tated the much- needed new gym, funded in part­ner­ship with Ku- ring- gai Coun­cil and the Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment.

He’s also sug­gest­ing night light­ing on fields tucked away from res­i­den­tial ar­eas, that with sen­si­tively placed light­ing would be idea for night time games, ex­tend­ing their us­abil­ity.

Kids train­ing at Montview Oval, Hornsby

Girls play­ing foot­ball at the North Tur­ra­murra Recre­ation Area, a syn­thetic field

Ku-ring-gai MP Alis­ter Henskens

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