Hutt’s soggy pitches ‘costly for players’
Football players in lower socioeconomic areas are being hit in the pocket because of the poor state of Lower Hutt sports grounds, says Capital Football.
In a submission to the Hutt City Council’s Long Term Plan, Capital Football decried the state of playing surfaces in Lower Hutt and the limited value for money they got from ground charges.
The submission called for more investment for smaller playing grounds. It said the council’s focus on larger ‘‘sports hubs’’ meant maintenance work at other grounds - particularly those in lower socio-economic areas - went underfunded.
Of particular concern was the lack of drainage at grounds in areas such as Naenae, Stokes Valley and Wainuiomata, Capital Football operations manager Lisa Jones said.
Lack of drainage often left grounds unusable after bad weather with matches being transferred to other areas. Players were forced to incur extra travel costs on top of their subs.
‘‘We need people to be able play in their local communities. Every week they are getting transferred and some players just can’t afford that.
‘‘Some areas have a lot of refugees and new migrants. If we want to encourage them to become a part of our communities... it puts barriers in the way.’’
Revenue taken by clubs through food and drink sales was also affected when matches were shifted. Capital Football said this had a negative effect on the longterm viability of clubs.
Capital Football was also concerned about a likely cost increase in the council’s 10-year grounds maintenance contract when it came up for tender next year.
They were concerned an increase in ground charges would deliver little in the way of better services. Increased costs could be passed on to players, making the game increasingly unaffordable - particularly for players in lower socio-economic areas. Capital Football paid $39,639 to the council in ground charges in 2017.
Capital Football’s submission was not about getting more services for less money, Jones said, but about getting usable facilities for Lower Hutt’s 2500 registered players and the wider football community.
Council city and community services manager Matt Reid was surprised by the submission. Council statistics showed community satisfaction levels with sports grounds in 2017/18 had a rating of 96 per cent.
He generally thought sports people were well served by Hutt City’s grounds and was keen to meet with Capital Football to discuss their submission.