Fast feet: Golden Plains Soccer Club players Rachel Kaiser, William Elijah, mayor Cr Owen Sharkey, Rivvah Conci, president Anthony Vanjek and Lachie Fletcher-Marr. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

Soccer pitch results in golden goal

September 7, 2020 BY

PLAYERS at Golden Plains Soccer Club are set for better facilities following the announcement of grant by the State government from the 2019-20 The World Game Facilities Fund.

Just under $500,000 has been set aside for capital works at the club’s home ground on the northern edge of Bannockburn and will include new female friendly change rooms, referee rooms, lighting for the second pitch, and fencing.

Club president Anthony Vanjek said the new facilities would help the Golden Plains Soccer cope with the booming interest in the sport.

“The new lights are going to help immensely. The first pitch is getting used five nights a week for training, plus on weekend game days. It’s been taking a hell of a beating for the last few years,” he said.

“We’ve slowly developed over the last few years. We started in 2012 with about 20-30 kids and now we’ve got about 250 players.

“We’re the only club in the Shire, players come from all the towns around the district, including Ballarat and Geelong.”

Nineteen-year-old Rachel Kaiser first ran on for Golden Plains when she was in grade 5, in the club’s inaugural year.

Now a member of the senior women’s squad, she’s said she’s looking forward to what the upgraded facilities would bring.

“You’ve seen over the years how soccer has progressed, especially for females,” she said. “It’s quite an inspiration and heart-warming to see that even in a small community like Golden Plains we’re able to give an opportunity to women and empower our voices.

“Female friendly change rooms mean more privacy, and worth within the women’s teams. Having our own space is recognition, so it’s about having a sense of power in something that’s ours.”

Mr Vanjek said that he hoped the new female friendly facilities with bring in more players to the club, especially as the Women’s World Cup drew closer.

“Obviously it was problematic with just the two change rooms for women and men, and made even worse when you have opposition teams,” he said.

“There’s also training nights too, we’ve got girls and boys as well as men and women, so it’s going to make a huge difference to us.

“All this has coincided with the announcement that Australia is going to be co-hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2023. There’s already has been huge growth, and this will enhance that and having the facilities to facilitate that will just help so much.”

In announcing the money Western Victoria upper house MP Gayle Tierney said the aim of allocating cash from The World Game Facilities Fund was in part to get more people active and kicking goals, as well as support soccer’s expansion.

“Football is booming in Victoria and we’re expecting growing numbers of boys and girls, men and women to sign up to play at local clubs, however many clubs are struggling with inadequate facilities,” she said.

“We’re working hard to encourage and enable all Victorians to embrace a more active and healthy lifestyle.”

The nearly $500,000 for Golden Plains Soccer Club comes on the back of a similar amount for like capital works at Inverleigh Recreation Reserve, as well as funding for upgrades at Lethbridge’s sporting precinct.

With cash for sports facilities pouring into the Shire from State and Federal government, Golden Plains Shire mayor Cr Owen Sharkey said the money took the pressure of the municipal budget.

“Whether it’s in Lethbridge, Rokewood, Bannockburn, Linton or Inverleigh for football clubs or soccer clubs, there’s just so much happening,” he said.

“There’s a huge need and desire as these communities are rapidly growing. It’s fantastic to get opportunities like these. The effects they have on the community are massive.

“If we didn’t do it though grants programs and the strategic planning wasn’t done, we would be only standing at one club saying, ‘This is fantastic, we’ve put in half-a-million dollars.’ They just wouldn’t happen.”

For Mr Vanjek, he was just thankful for the continuing support of his club and its facilities.

“On behalf of the club and the whole community I’d like to thank Golden Plains Shire and the State and Federal government,” he said. “They’ve all provided funding to help these facilities get built over the last few years.

“The staff at the council have been tremendous, they’ve worked tirelessly behind the scenes to work out the detail and submit applications for funding.”