Big plans for Barkly Park
User groups of Barkly Park Rutherglen are hoping to see their home ground drastically improved with the release of a preliminary master plan for the community sporting precinct.
Developed by Regional Design Service, the master plan follows extensive community consultation which recognised the dire need to improve the outdated facilities and create an inclusive and accessible space for all user groups.
Rutherglen Football Netball Club committee member Naomi Beattie has been a driving force behind the community led initiative.
“Three years ago, Rutherglen Football Netball Club partnered with Regional Design Service of Corowa to develop a saleable Master Plan for the Barkly Park precinct in the hope of cashing in on the unprecedented stimulus funding of the last few years,” Ms Beattie said.
“We were attracted by the incredible passion Aaron and Phillip display for grassroots community groups and their desire to facilitate self-determination within the community.
“Their unwavering support and advice have been invaluable.
“The preliminary master plan is the result of an incredible amount of community consultation conducted by Regional Design Service.”
Ms Beattie said with the recent growth in female football numbers, it was important for Barkly Park to meet modern playing standards.
“The last five years and the emergence of the Murray Felines membership has seen a major shift in the gender diversity within our user groups at Barkly Park,” she said.
“We have seen massive growth in numbers over recent years and are bursting at the seams with junior members.
“With the Felines clocking up over 100 registrations this year, participation in grass roots sport is thriving in Rutherglen particularly among young girls and women.
“Unfortunately, we are lacking basic facilities to cater for this growth.”
Recent research from Victoria and Federation Universities shows community sports clubs like Rutherglen have a long way to go to make female players feel welcome in male-dominated sports.
Led by Professors Rochelle Eime and Hans Westerbeek, the research shows that the low visibility of girls and women in male-dominated sports can further hinder females from feeling welcome.
“The immediate challenge for organisations and participants is to find ways to create all-inclusive club environments,” said Professor Eime.
The research also showed that while many club executives indicated they valued women and girls as players, their clubs often lacked real commitment to resourcing them to equal standards by offering them the same quality equipment and facilities, including separate change rooms, bathrooms, and playing facilities.
The report recommends targeted investment by government at all levels towards fully ‘equalising’ sport facilities.
Professor Eime said she was heartened by a new generation of committee members with vastly different and refreshingly new attitudes rising to the forefront of a culture change, who understood that equal representation and opportunities are the foundation of inclusion.
“Male club members who offer themselves up as champions of change and call out inappropriate behaviour and language may well be the most powerful force towards this inclusive change.”
As female football continues to be the fastest growing sport in regional Victoria, Ms Beattie said inadequate facilities could potentially hinder future participation in not only female football but local sport as a whole.
“Our vision is to attract state, federal and local government funding to develop a much-needed community hub for Rutherglen,” she said.
“This would encompass not only our most immediate needs of our sporting groups with adequate changeroom facilities and playable netball courts, but also to encompass widely accessible facilities such as a community gym, a modern playgroup facility, a permeant youth hub, activity rooms and a function centre.”
A copy of the master plan is available at www.rutherglencats.com.au or the Rutherglen Cats Facebook page. People are encouraged to leave their comments and suggestions at either the website or on the Facebook page.