Hutt’s soggy pitches ‘costly for play­ers’

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEWTSO

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.

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