Councillor Martin Smith visited Lyle Hudson (St Ives FC President) and Ed Ferguson (NSFA CEO) earlier this month to discuss the successful 2021 season to date, football’s management of COVID last season and the challenges now facing the sport.
Cr Smith intends to run for re-election in Ku-ring-gai in September this year after Council elections were delayed 12 months due to COVID in 2020. Smith has been a long-time supporter of sports clubs and was open to the challenges facing football due to its significant growth in 2021.
NSFA has recorded its largest growth year in recent history, increasing by 1,200 participants, taking the total Association participation numbers to 18,100. Ed Ferguson celebrated this growth and paid tribute to the local football community.
“As an Association and speaking on behalf of our Clubs we are thrilled to continue to grow football and see such a strong response in participation this season. The work of thousands of volunteers throughout NSFA make this happen each week and I believe the strong focus on retention is beginning to reap its rewards.”
However, with growth comes new challenges. Lyle Hudson explained the situation at Ku-ring-gai based club St Ives FC, where their numbers have topped 890 participants.
“As a club our participation numbers are a great reflection of the effort, environment and opportunities we strive to provide our members. The growth however has left us short of grounds as we have limited access to our main three fields, of which inconsistent use proves to be the biggest challenge.”
In St Ives’ case, their main field, Warrimoo Oval, did not pull up well after the off season and as such Lyle and the Club’s committee made the sensible decision to move training away from the field two nights a week to allow it to rest. This pushed more players and teams onto St Ives Showground which has its challenges due to being a major events venue for the Council.
“With a few weeks’ notice we may be asked to move our training completely from the Showground, which results in 500+ players displaced for a few days and our need to work with council to find suitable grounds.”
Without certainty, this has led to extra stress on the Club volunteers’ shoulders and calls for the Council, community and Club to find a more long-term solution.
That solution is the potential conversion of Warrimoo Oval to a synthetic football field.
“Synthetic fields provide certainty, consistency and the highest quality of field we can expect at a community level,” elaborated Hudson.
Other synthetics around NSFA have allowed our Clubs to match the demand of their local community, whilst ensuring quality of field, safety of participants and the ability to deliver the intended season we promised.”
Warrimoo Oval has been tipped as a suitable site for synthetic field development due to its location, sufficient parking on site, Clubhouse and the oval’s minimal impact on local neighbours. The Council are currently investigating the environmental aspects of the site to make an informed decision, something Cr Smith encourages.
“St Ives FC are clearly leaders in the Ku-ring-gai community, and it is our duty as Council to investigate how we can support them as they continue to support our community. A synthetic field at Warrimoo Oval would be ideal for the Club, a great location for the local residents and allow football and informal recreational use of the space to grow considerably.”
Lyle Hudson and former President Penny Howell have been working for many years on this project and are excited by the new injection of consideration from Ku-ring-gai.
“This would cement the future of St Ives FC within our community,” said Hudson.
“We would be able to guarantee our members a place to play, a safe surface and continue to evolve our Club. We are in full support of Warrimoo Oval’s conversion having pursued grants to support the Council in its funding.”
Over the next few months Howell, Hudson, Ferguson and Smith will be watching closely as the suitability of Warrimoo Oval is announced.
NSFA encourages members and participants to get involved in the project by contacting the Club and their local Councillor to show their support of the project.
Lyle Hudson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ku-ring-gai Councillors – Website Link