Now is not a good time to be looking to the State Government for money, as with thousands involved with the mining industry losing their jobs, the spending by the Government is bound to be more cautious.
Despite this, two sporting codes are still pursuing financial assistance from Government.
Football has been pursuing the Western Australian State Government since 2013 for funding to create a “Home of Football.” This home it has been proposed will house the game’s governing body Football West and also Perth Glory.
Such a venue will also enable the game to have a centralised “training resource centre for coaches, referees, administrators and volunteers seeking improvement at both community and elite levels.” It is also proposed that there will be an artificial surface to be used for senior, junior and schools matches, as well as other surrounding pitches. The benefit of such a facility is being pitched as offering a “training base to entice the world’s biggest clubs and national teams for friendly matches, providing tourism exposure.”
There is merit in the proposal, but can the cost be justified? Football has looked at the facilities now enjoyed by Athletics, Basketball, Rugby and Netball and feels that it deserves a slice of the pie and equally up to date facilities. The game must be regretting moving out of the offices in Perry Lakes Stadium, because if they had stayed the chances are the Government would have been forced to deliver a new home, as they demolished the old administration buildings to create a housing estate; hence the reason Rugby, Athletics and Basketball were given new homes.
With Football West purchasing their own new offices on Lord Street for $1.3million in August 2014, the Government may well argue that their need is not as great as when all the staff were crammed into an old clubhouse at Gibbney Reserve. With a huge Government investment in the new Perth Stadium they may well also argue that if any of the top teams are looking to come to Perth, they will be given the Stadium to use, which again puts a dent in football’s case.
As was tabled in August 2015 in Time to Leave Home one cannot help feeling that Football would be better served trying to upgrade facilities across the metropolitan area rather than a centralised base. This would benefit a far wider section of the community.
To make matters more interesting Football now faces competition from Hockey. This week it was announced that Hockey is seeking Government funding in order to “deliver three new artificial turf hockey facilities, improve player support facilities and upgrade the Perth Hockey Stadium to maintain its international standing.”
This is where Hockey has an advantage over Football, in that the Perth Hockey Stadium is a venue that already hosts top flight sport. It is also home to the Australian Institute of Sport(AIS) men’s and women’s Hockey programs, so it is vital if Western Australia is to keep that AIS program in Perth and continue to attract international competition that the facilities be on a par with, or better than anywhere else in the world.
To add weight to their argument is the fact that the Kookaburras are the number one team in the World, and the Hockeyroos are ranked third. These two teams are consistently amongst the best in the world, and also two of the most consistent international teams in Australian sport. That has to carry a great deal of weight.
Football is currently looking to make its new home in Ashfield. Hockey WA has announced that they plan to deliver two regional artificial turf fields in Gosnells and Cockburn. A move they say will “substantively redress disadvantage in these regions. Perth’s existing (10) artificial turfs are mostly concentrated in more affluent areas, including three at private boys schools.”
Hockey is to be applauded that prior to announcing their intent to apply for funding they have already been busy obtaining financial assistance. Their proposal to meet all of their goals is expected to cost around $19.4million.
They have already secured $10.3M in pledges for their project. They are seeking assistance through the Federal Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund (NSRF) for the remaining $9.1M.
They have garnered support from strong partners, Healthway, Regional Development Australia (Perth), the Department of Education, Tourism WA and local political leaders. According to a Press release the Member of Swan, Steve Irons MP, Senators Linda Reynolds and Chris Back and Member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke MP have strongly endorsed the project.
Hockey WA has brought together six funding partners; Hockey WA, cities of Cockburn and Gosnells, two local hockey clubs and Curtin University; that have collectively pledged $10.2 (53%) to the project. For this they deserve much credit as they have not sat and waited for the money, they have gone out and obtained these pledges to make things happen. Even if they do not achieve all of their goals they are assured of achieving much.
When Football’s Home of Football campaign was launched in February 2013 it was announced that the organisation “was seeking a $20 million funding pledge from political parties.” It has not been revealed how much Football has been pledged, or whether the $20million price tag has risen since it was initially tabled three years ago.
Both sports are going to have to mount a compelling case to the State Government to be able to achieve what they want for their code. Sadly the reality is that sports can no longer totally support themselves and they will now always need Government support. Governments will always try to be even-handed as there are votes at stake, but when there is a limited sum to be shared around the decision process becomes harder.
While here we have focussed on two high profile sports there are plenty of sports with a lesser profile who would welcome thousands of dollars in support rather than the millions being requested here.
Literally the million dollar question is who needs or deserves it the most? Which investment will benefit the community the most? Whatever the decision someone will always be disappointed.