Much of local discussion over the course of this year has centred around Maribyrnong City Council’s plan to allocate a portion of Footscray Park to the Melbourne Victory Football Club female and junior Football Academy. With debate heating up and a decision imminent, The Westsider has sought a response from both sides of the table and presented – please do your own research and draw your own conclusions.

    By Angela Liberto

    I’m a mum of 2 children who was born and raised in Footscray and I am now raising my children in Footscray. I live very close to the proposed Footscray Park upgrade. My 8 year old daughter plays for the Maribyrnong Swifts Football Club which is an all-female club at Johnson Reserve with over 125 females participating of all ages.

    It’s a safe and inclusive environment outside of school where our kids can play in a team, have fun, make friends and stay healthy. The facilities at Johnson Reserve are sub-par, all the girls share one field that is poorly maintained and our pavilion isn’t fit for purpose, the club can’t grow or add teams due to the lack of facilities. Football has the highest participation rate and for women it is growing each year, the city is desperate for more facilities.

    Growing up in Footscray we had no sporting opportunities, especially for girls. Seeing my daughter play sport is amazing but we still lack those facilities and opportunities to grow in the sport. By the time girls are teenagers their participation falls dramatically, I don’t want my daughter to stop playing sport simply because Footscray still doesn’t have the facilities or investment to cater for them.

    Our girls are just as important as boys in sport, our Matilda’s team was recently on the world stage making us proud, one day it could be one of our girls from the Western Suburbs on that stage. Why should our kids once again miss out on these facilities and sporting opportunities? I want this to change.

    Footscray Park is a fantastic location for this facility. It is a very under-utilised piece of land that is in dire need of an upgrade. It is close to VU and Maribyrnong College both of which are involved in sports programs, not many people use this area and if you go there it is empty every day. It was always a sports field but has been left in disrepair, I see this as an upgrade to what is already there and this development will once again make this into the sports field it was intended for. People claim it is their park and they are the voice of Maribyrnong, but I disagree, it is all of ours, we are lifelong residents and our supporting views also matter. This park will be used by many more people in the community and future generations, it will encourage more community use not less. Leaving an under-utilised lawn area neglected when we have an opportunity for investment and to have it brought back to life is an opportunity that can’t be wasted.

    Maribyrnong has no more space left to grow their sports clubs and add new grounds, with the population growth and more kids needing to play sport, how will the council manage this? This is a sports field and should be developed back into a sports field that can be used by the community. It will deliver many benefits via community programs and drive greater football participation, particularly within the youth and female pathways.

    Melbourne Victory will work more closely with under resourced local clubs and schools, it will mean we can access these new facilities and allow our local clubs to grow, which takes the pressure off council resources and other community spaces.

    Local clubs and schools will also benefit from more community programs, clinics and training opportunities in the area, something we don’t have now and is exclusive to Northern and Eastern Suburbs. The pitch upgrade will allow for higher foot traffic and use all year round, it will be used by more locals than ever.

    It will be home to Melbourne Victory’s W-League women’s team, we will have the opportunity to watch W-League matches on our very own door step. For women in sport and for our young girls, we are showing them that they can still play and they matter. A lot of these female athletes are their heroes and they look up to them. I hope to see more girls from the West on this stage. Melbourne Victory will also run their Blue Light Program at the facility, which engages at risk children in sports programs. The importance of sport gives them a sense of community, it gives them structure and it gives them a safe environment to play sport and have fun.

    This is a significant investment in the City of Maribyrnong’s infrastructure and the benefits for us are endless. We have a lot of community support who are excited about this project and we are looking forward to being able to use this space.



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    1. I’m for the academy as it will enhance a muddy paddock at no expense to ratepayers a $10.5 investment and council have a tenant that’ll drain plant trees shrubs maintenance free and inject jobs money into the area
      At the same time soccers faculty won’t impede on the doggy walkers who will have new found toilet facilities and trees for the dogs

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