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Editions
August 09 Edition Cover

Park reserved for non-existent local club

05 Dec 2017

By Sunny Liu

The City of Melbourne has turned down a community soccer club’s request to use Ron Barassi Senior Park as its training venue because a non-existent Docklands sporting club needs to be prioritised.

In November, North Melbourne Athletic Football Club (NMAFC) was denied access to the NewQuay park for its 2018 season.

Previously, the club has made casual bookings to use the park for its women’s football program after relocating from the under-construction Flemington Road Oval.

But City of Melbourne has refused to let the club use the space on a regular basis for next year, saying priority should be given to a local Docklands sporting club.

NMAFC has been advised that council was unwilling to give the space to a club formed outside of Docklands.

Ross Burnett, president of NMAFC, said he understood the City of Melbourne was looking for a yet-to-be-established Docklands club to use the space in 2018.

“Our understanding is the current criteria set internally by the City of Melbourne is for no existing club to be based at Ron Barassi Snr Reserve in 2018.”

“The facility is unlikely to be allocated a winter tenant unless it is a newly-established Docklands team,” Mr Burnett said.

City of Melbourne’s spokesperson Brian Wilson said the council wanted to establish a “local sporting club” to use the park as its home base.

“Work is underway with the Docklands community regarding the establishment of a local sporting club. For this reason, we have declined some requests for permanent access to Ron Barassi Senior Park from a number of sporting organisations, including NMAFC,” he said.

But it seems a local club is only a conceptual idea at the moment.

“Contact and feedback is currently being gathered by the City of Melbourne to determine the level of interest in establishing a local sporting club,” Mr Wilson said.

It is unclear what community group or contacts have been engaged to discuss the formation of such a club.

Mr Burnett said forming a local Docklands club before the next season was unfeasible.

“We are unaware of any group actively planning a community club being formed in the Docklands area between now and early 2018,” he said.

“The task of forming a new club is very difficult especially one planning to have multiple teams or a full junior program in the first couple of years,” Mr Burnett said.

Mr Wilson also said council officers would meet with NMAFC for the 2018 winter season grounds allocation process.

NMAFC has submitted applications for sporting space to the council and has put Ron Barassi Senior Park as its number one preference.

Mr Burnett said presence of a sporting club in Docklands would help build the community.

“A sporting club at the Ron Barassi park can increase foot traffic in the area,” he said.

“We envision Ron Barassi Snr Reserve and the Docklands area becoming the long-term home of North Melbourne Athletic,” Mr Burnett said.

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