Northern NSW Football and The Facilities & Advocacy Unit held the annual Football Facilities Forum, which is designed to help build the capacity of Zones and Football Clubs by growing the knowledge around what key components are required to upgrade infrastructure projects.
The morning session of the forum was split into two groups with one stream focussing upon grant writing skills. Grants play a critical role in providing financial assistance to local clubs to upgrade infrastructure projects, but volunteers often do not have the time or capacity to apply for them. This workshop provided an insight into the various grant opportunities and key processes of how to be successful in grant submissions.
The other two streams conducted in the morning concentrated on ground maintenance tips and field marking product information. The 2018 Football Facilities Audit shows 52% of fields were below playing standards. Football clubs and local councils are seeking to keep their playing surfaces in the best possible condition, but constraints such as budgets, funding, high usage/traffic and adverse weather are continuing to make it difficult to have a quality field year-round.
The afternoon sessions continued to build upon playing field infrastructure by covering topics around irrigation and floodlighting, whilst also highlighting a football specific grant to assist clubs in improving their football facilities and improve the overall football experience for their members and stakeholders through the Northern NSW Football Facilities Fund.
Irrigation and/or drainage plays a critical part in the process of obtaining a quality field, but the facilities audit shows 45% of fields do not have irrigation and/or drainage. Better understanding of irrigation design around poor construction, lack of effective maintenance and overuse of the pitch will, eventually, lead to poor drainage and unacceptable playing conditions. It is essential that pitches be designed taking account of the estimated intensity of use.
Having good drainage is a key requirement of a well-maintained grass field and a naturally well-drained site will form a sound basis for a playing surface. To assist in improving the turf quality, water efficient irrigation systems such as drip irrigation systems (surface and sub-surface) and/or automatic systems may be considered.
Floodlighting remains one of the key areas of infrastructure that require upgrading as 32% of fields across the state do not have floodlighting. Adequate lighting for football fields is now an essential element in the ongoing viability of any venue as it can support with the growth in participation playing the game by hosting training sessions during the week along with weekday and weekend night competition matches.
Funding is seen as a major hurdle in getting infrastructure projects completed. The Northern NSW Football (NNSWF) Facilities Fund is now open providing a fantastic opportunity for clubs to improve their facilities for club members and their community. The NNSWF Facilities Fund is an initiative which has been established to provide funding assistance to football clubs to partner with local councils, government and local stakeholders to improve the quality, availability, accessibility and safety of their facilities.
The fund closes at 5pm, 31 March 2020. For further information regarding infrastructure support and NNSWF Facilities Fund guidelines, visit www.footballfacilities.com.au.