More parks needed for sport codes

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - GARY FAR­ROW

Hamil­ton’s fail­ure to up­keep, de­velop and di­ver­sify its sports grounds is be­gin­ning to take its toll.

Parks tended to favour es­tab­lished sports, such as rugby and foot­ball, rather than emerg­ing sports, like lacrosse.

Dur­ing the win­ter, parks were closed be­cause a lack of drainage meant the grounds were too wet to play sport on.

Quite of­ten there were no al­ter­na­tive venues be­cause the Hamil­ton City Coun­cil had not de­vel­oped any new grounds to meet its pop­u­la­tion growth.

Those were just a few of the points made by Waikato Lacrosse to the city coun­cil’s 10-year plan hear­ing re­cently.

Its pres­i­dent Ro Edge said lacrosse was one of the sports which faced a par­tic­u­larly hard up­hill bat­tle.

Many of the ways that coun­cils choose to lease sports grounds tended to favour es­tab­lished sports rather than emerg­ing sports.

Lacrosse had recorded phe­nom­e­nal growth. Its win­ter league started in 2011 with five teams, this year it had about 24 teams.

‘‘The prob­lem we had at the be­gin­ning of last sum­mer was we were meant to be play­ing at Gower Park and have our league played there,’’ Edge said.

‘‘But be­cause the win­ter had been so wet, and there has been a lack of in­vest­ment in drainage at Waikato sports parks over the last, prob­a­bly, 10 years at least, they’re ba­si­cally get­ting too much de­mand on them be­cause there’s no sports fields get­ting de­vel­oped.’’

Last year, two Waikato Lacrosse tour­na­ments at Gower Park had to be can­celled, and moved to Brem­worth Park only one week be­fore the league was due to be­gin.

‘‘The con­se­quences of un­der in­vest­ment in sport­ing in­fra­struc­ture are just huge, es­pe­cially for us,’’ Edge said.

Be­cause of lim­ited suit­able fa­cil­i­ties avail­able, Waikato Lacrosse’s men’s field game has now had to con­vert to box lacrosse, which could be played in the in­line hockey rink on Dey Street.

Edge said Waikato Lacrosse had been in­volved with Waipa¯ Dis­trict Coun­cil, Hamil­ton City Coun­cil and Waikato Dis­trict Coun­cil, and man­ag­ing re­cre­ation spa­ces seems ‘‘to be a chal­lenge for ev­ery­one’’.

‘‘It’s about bring­ing all those com­mu­ni­ties of Hamil­ton to­gether at one place too, so I think it would be amaz­ing if it could hap­pen.’’

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