THE need for a new floor for the basketball stadium at Welshpool’s Arthur Sutherland Recreation Reserve has never been greater.
That was the message from Madelaine Mason in a presentation to South Gippsland Shire Council last Wednesday. The Welshpool Basketball Association treasurer said that the floor had progressed from a wish list to where it was now a matter of necessity.
A number of patch-up jobs had been done in recent years, she said, but the latest professional assessment was that the whole floor needs replacing.
As a result, use of the stadium is currently being kept to a minimum, even though there is no shortage of interest from people wishing to play basketball as well as other sports, from badminton to soccer.
Welshpool Basketball Association currently has over 180 registered players of all ages. The association runs two competitions a year – one for adults and one for all ages. It can have as many as 24 teams competing in a season. It also runs referee courses and skills training.
Players flock to the reserve from all over the district – from Welshpool, Port Welshpool, Toora and the hills to the north – and also from as far away as Leongatha and Yarram.
“It’s a friendly competition, with an emphasis on fun,” said Ms Mason. “That’s what people like about it.”
Welshpool Basketball Association has undertaken lots of fundraising, but floors don’t come cheap and the association is still a long way off realising its dream of a new floor. Of the $200,000 it is estimated a new floor will cost, the WBA has just $50,000.
At last Wednesday’s presentation, Ms Mason explained that the club was seeking the support of Council in its application for $100,000 from the 2017-2018 Sport and Recreation Victoria Community Sports Infrastructure Fund – Minor Facilities.
She pointed out that the stadium already performs a vital role in the local community and greater use was likely to be made of it by other sporting groups and the wider public if it was in prime condition.
Her presentation impressed Council and several councillors indicated they would support a bid for funding.
Cr Mohya Davies congratulated the WBA on raising $50,000 and said she hoped Council would be able to help.
Cr Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks suggested talking to a hardware chain, which might be willing to supply flooring materials at a reduced rate, as had been done in the past for other community groups.
In answer to a question from Cr Lorraine Brunt, Ms Mason said that the roof had been replaced in recent years, and this had dealt with underlying water problems, so there should be no further damage to the floorboards except for general wear and tear. Other previous basketball stadium projects have included new walls, new lighting, an electric scoreboard, new basketball backboards and rings.
Only local councils are able to submit applications for the Community Sports Infrastructure Fund directly to Sport and Recreation Victoria. South Gippsland Shire Council has until early June to submit a proposal and should know a few weeks later if its application on behalf of Welshpool Basketball Association has been successful.